Manhandled. Shut down. David Wells takes the hill and the Cincinnati Reds scamper away like a pack of frightened Ring Dings. A 7-0 victory. Wells pitching no-hit ball for 5 and two-thirds innings. Manny clocking a home run for the third straight evening.

Revenge. Yes, we’re tasting it. Can’t you feel the ghosts of 1975 dissolve with every victory? Never mind the fact that in ’75 I wasn’t old enough to piss standing up. This is for Jim Willoughby, man! And Bernie Carbo. And Yaz. And that guy with the glasses. And El Tiante. And Fisk. And Yaz. Hells, yeah, I mentioned Yaz twice. Don’t think for a minute that I don’t understand how Yaz, feeling slighted, could have 16 guys show up at my front door in thirty minutes and beat me within an inch of my life. He’s Yaz, goddam it, and he’s like Major League Baseball’s Frank Sinatra. When he walks in a room, the vodka is poured, the steaks are carved, there’s a reserved chair at the blackjack table and a couple twenty year old waitresses [including a “spare,” if ya read me] are standing by, ready for a little “dugout frollicking” as it’s frequently referred to in the police reports.

But back to the present. Dare I actually say that things are starting to look good? Sure, it still seems to me like l’il Edgar just wants to start crying every time he comes to the plate. But it would appear that Manny’s getting back on track. And Millar’s bat is starting to show signs of actually existing, whereas previous performance might have lead us to believe the Kevster simply ambled to the box with a plate of fried shrimp or a pack of crayons. And Wells, god love him, has thrown two fantastic games back-to-back, and has yet to pass out on the mound or take out his plums mid-game. So we’re happy.

What’s the secret behind all this recent goodness? Well, we’re back home for one thing, and everyone knows that Fenway mojo is strong. But I also look to the power of Jim Rice’s beard. Ever since he went all Uptown Saturday Night on us and got that thing recalibrated as some sort of “wide-ass ‘stache and chinstrap” combo, the vibe has been decidedly upbeat.

And we will look to the power of the beard again tonight, as Bronson Arroyo takes on the villanous Aaron Harang. And if there was ever a name that begged to be co-opted by a Swedish prog-rock band, it’s “Aaron Harang.”

See you tonight. And bring your broom.