By Gerard Lombardo – @getoffatkenmore
My friend Steve and I had a narcissistic, douchebaggery habit of measuring our biceps following our arm workouts while stationed in Yuma.
“You guys look like a couple of assholes,” our Staff Sergeant complimented (considering the foul mouthed tendencies of Marines, a-hole was indeed a compliment) us one afternoon. He parted us with a quick “check your emails,” before hastening off to the gym himself, where he undoubtedly would measure his own arms in the confines of his vehicle.
The e-mail? 12 month orders to 4th Marine Regiment, Okinawa, Japan.
I didn’t want to go, but who could I argue with? I was an enlisted service member, a pawn in the eyes of our Commandant. Luckily, I learned upon arrival that the Staff NCO in charge of my disgruntled self was a fellow baseball fan, named Tim, and a loyal follower of the Cincinnati Reds. We bonded through the common disdain we shared for our Officer-in-charge, who once, while driving, slapped a bee so hard the stinger stuck in his hand, causing him to drive off road into a drainage ditch. Smooth.
Tim enlightened me on his hometown team, waxing poetic over the likes of OBP champ Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, and other All-Star contributors such as the familiar faces of Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce. Between the ’12-’13 campaigns, Cincy racked up 187 wins, even earning a pair of playoff victories, for the first time since the strike shortened 1995 Reggie Sanders-led division winners were swept in the NLCS.
Luckily for Sox Nation, as Boston flies into Ohio for this weekend’s three game set, the new and not improved Reds are headed for their fourth straight 86+ loss season. Before Boston invades Great American Ballpark’s janitorial closet in search of a good broom, let’s preview the series!
Consistency? Who needs it. 7:10, 4:10, and 1:10 start times are on deck for the weekend. Porcello, E-Rod, and the Fist will look to lock down one (or all) of the post season rotation slots, taking on house hold names Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, and Jackson Stephens, respectively.
If you’re doing somersaults over the BoSox nailing down a wild card birth, stop. We’ve held first place for 94 days this season, and now isn’t the time to let the proverbial foot off the gas. With the magic number decreased to 8, a series sweep would create some much needed breathing room heading into the final seven vs. Toronto and Houston.
13-4 against the NL this season, coupled with a 30-15 post trade deadline record speaks for itself. The team is playing good ball.
The hitter friendly dimensions of Cincinnati’s home field, along with a warm weekend weather report, could fluff up the Sox home run totals a bit. Mookie and Hanley sit at 23 & 22, with the trio of Mitchie Two-Bags, Beni and JBJ surging into the high teens. Despite being last in the AL in ding dongs for almost the entirety of 2017, five players with 20+ bombs is plenty of pop for a team that’s 5th in runs scored.
The Red Sox should be heading into tonight’s matchup with a sweep in mind, and given Porcello’s performance on the road (13 starts, 2 complete games, 3.43 ERA) this year, he’ll look to set a winning tone for the remainder of the weekend.