BOSTON — In the city where he once effortlessly swayed the fan base from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, Manny Ramirez discovered Friday night that he had lost the capacity to inspire.
Some cheered when Ramirez's name blared over the public-address system at Fenway Park and others booed, but they did so without conviction, the voices of gratitude and disapproval quickly blending with the murmurs of the indifferent.
Red Sox Nation had withstood Ramirez's departure. He was now 38 years old and no longer a feared hitter worthy of praise or disdain. He was yesterday's news.
The most significant reaction to something Ramirez did in the Dodgers' 10-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox came when he struck out for the second time -- and it was unclear how much of that had to do with him. The strikeout ended the game.
Bat in his left hand and helmet in his right, Ramirez retreated to the dugout, head down.
In his first game in Boston since he essentially forced the Red Sox to send him to the Dodgers two summers ago, Ramirez was one for five with a run, his average down to .291. His only hit was a flare single to center in the sixth inning.
The fans' reaction to Ramirez didn't elicit much of a reaction in the Dodgers' clubhouse.
What was there to say?
Manager Joe Torre, who said he hoped the Fenway faithful would recognize Ramirez's role in helping the Red Sox win two World Series titles, said he thought he heard more cheers than boos. "I was satisfied with that," Torre said.
Ramirez continued his media blackout, ignoring a group of 30 or so reporters gathered in front of his locker before and after the game.
Some players, like Ronnie Belliard and Matt Kemp, reacted with sarcasm to the growing crowd in the cramped clubhouse.
"Who are they waiting for?" Belliard shouted across the clubhouse in Spanish in the hours leading up to the game.
When Ramirez showed up, Kemp made his way over to his locker, using his bat as a make-believe microphone to simulate an interview with the former All-Star.
"Manny smells good today, guys," Kemp said.
In addition to an increased media contingent, Fenway Park hosted several stars on this night.
Roger Clemens sat in the seats above the Green Monster. Carlton Fisk and Rihanna were in the ballpark. So was Vin Scully, who was asked by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to make a rare trip to the East Coast to broadcast the series.
But for the Dodgers, the pageantry immediately faded to the background.
What became clear, if it wasn't already, was that their rotation was in shambles.
"We have what we have," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said.
A day after John Ely was ravaged in Cincinnati, fellow rookie Carlos Monasterios was rocked for six runs and eight hits in only four innings. Monasterios gave up two home runs in the first inning, to David Ortiz and J.D. Drew.
The fifth inning was particularly horrific, as Torre and Honeycutt combined to make four trips to the mound before the Dodgers were able to record their first out.
Monasterios and Ramon Troncoso couldn't retire any of the batters they faced in what turned out to be a seven-run inning for the Red Sox that blew open the game.
Torre didn't make any guarantees that Monasterios would take his next turn in the rotation.
"We need to pitch," Torre said. "That's how we turn things around."