SAN FRANCISCO — Bring on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At last, the Red Sox can say it. After annihilating the San Francisco Giants, 12-1, Wednesday in the finale of a three-game interleague series, the Sox finally were able to look ahead to a showdown that has been breathlessly anticipated since the schedule was released 11 months ago.
The subplots are endless. There is the reunion with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, jettisoned by the Sox one year ago Sunday in a megatrade that altered the course of both franchises. There is the chance for an up-close look at Yasiel Puig, the Cuban sensation who has turned the Dodgers into the hottest team in baseball.
And, of course, there is the potential that the next three games represent a World Series preview.
So, as the Red Sox left AT&T Park, bound for the airport and a day off before descending upon Dodger Stadium tonight, they already were looking forward to what figures to be a must-see weekend.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some big hype, obviously with the trade, Puig,” said Jonny Gomes, whose two-run single in the third inning gave the Sox a 5-1 lead en route to the rout. “It’s going to be good baseball. I think it’ll be a nice, hostile environment, a playoff atmosphere, which is going to be nice to get exposed to that.”
First, though, there was the matter of finishing off the Giants, albeit a stripped-down version of the defending World Series champions. And the Red Sox jumped on Barry Zito with Will Middlebrooks’ two-run homer in the second inning and didn’t relent. The Sox added three runs in the third inning, another in the fourth, then five in the seventh on a rally punctuated by Stephen Drew’s three-run shot against Mike Kickham.
Felix Doubront chipped in eight solid innings, and the Red Sox snapped a three-series losing streak, winning their first since Aug. 5-7 in Houston.
One downer: David Ortiz left the game in the fifth inning with tightness in his lower back. But the slugger characterized the condition as more of an annoyance than a worrisome injury and wouldn’t rule out playing first base against the Dodgers.
After all, Ortiz wouldn’t miss a chance to catch up with Gonzalez and Crawford.
“They’re my boys,” Ortiz said. “It will be cool to see my boys out there. It seems like (the trade) happened yesterday. It’s one of those situations where they made decisions, and as an employee, you have to deal with it. But I tell you what: The way they’re playing, it tells you, things have gotten better over there. Things have gotten better over here. They’re making the GMs look like geniuses.”
There will be plenty of time to analyze the trade over the next three days. Besides, the Red Sox are more curious to see how they stack up against the Dodgers, who have won 45 of their last 55 games.
“We’ve got three big ones against a very talented team, one of the best teams in the game,” Shane Victorino, who finished last season with the Dodgers after being traded by the Philadelphia Phillies, said. “Going out there now, watching them do what they’re doing, it doesn’t shock me. It doesn’t surprise me. We’re going to see what they’re all about. It’s going to be a true test for us.”
But it’s just the latest in a series of tests this month, according to manager John Farrell. The three games against the Dodgers represent the end of a stretch in which the Sox have played 16-of-19 games away from Fenway Park.
Thus far, they have a 7-9 record.
“I remember leaving spring (training) and going, ‘August is going to be tough. We’ve got to get our wins now to hopefully cover us if August does hit a little bump,’”
Gomes said. “I don’t think it’s been a bump. I just think we’re kind of going with the flow of traffic versus speeding ahead.”
Against the Dodgers, it will be full-speed ahead.