BOSTON — The Red Sox won’t want to remember the end result of Terry Francona’s return to Fenway Park on Thursday. And if they do, it should only be to serve as motivation going forward.
There was a nice moment prior to the second inning of what was eventually a 12-3 Indians win. The Red Sox honored Francona, who won two World Series titles during his eight years as Boston’s manager, with a video montage on the Fenway Park big screen. A message then popped up welcoming back Francona, whom the team called an “old friend.”
The video tribute was followed by chants of “Terry” from the Fenway Faithful, and Francona acknowledged the crowd by touching his heart while standing on the top step of the Indians’ dugout.
“Well deserved. That video probably could have gone on for quite a while longer,” said John Farrell, who served as Francona’s pitching coach from 2007 to 2010 before becoming Red Sox manager this past offseason. “But it was a touch of class to acknowledge the eight years spent here — eight successful years — and obviously he’s in a good place right now as well.”
Francona’s Indians have been one of baseball’s biggest surprises through the first two months of the season, and with Thursday’s blowout win, the Tribe now sit atop the American League Central with a 27-19 record. That certainly sounds like a good place, and if Francona’s Indians can sustain their early-season success, it’ll soon be an even better place.
To their credit, the Red Sox are in a pretty good place themselves right now. It’s hard to complain about a 28-20 start to the season, especially given last year’s debacle. The Sox need to make sure the Francona hoopla doesn’t get to them this weekend, though. Otherwise, it could be a disappointing few days in Boston.
Francona certainly deserves to be honored for all of the success he achieved as Red Sox manager, but the Indians are a dangerous team. Sox fans got a firsthand glimpse of that on Thursday, when Cleveland’s offense pounded out 16 hits and chased Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster from the game after just three innings. Things aren’t going to get any easier, as the Indians will send their ace, Justin Masterson, to the mound on Friday.
The Francona tribute on Thursday was definitely a nice touch, as it gave Red Sox fans a chance to look back at some great days in the franchise’s history. But now, the focus really needs to shift to the task at hand, or else the Red Sox’ homestand won’t be a pleasant one.