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The Red Sox put it all together on Friday afternoon in their home opener with a strong 12-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox had contributions all around, most notably a great start from Josh Beckett who rebounded from an ugly performance last Saturday to lead Boston to a 12-2 win. Despite all the good, an injury to Jacoby Ellsbury weighs over the positive outcome.
Pre-game ceremonies for the home opener included first pitches from recently retired Sox veterans Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. The two were honored for their contributions throughout the time they spent as Boston Red Sox, including being contributors to both World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
The action commenced as Beckett took the ball, starting a game that hopefully was a sign of things to go for the Sox righty. He looked shaky early on, allowing hits here and there and getting mostly hard hit outs. He only allowed one run over eight innings, although he was hardly dominate as he only struck out one batter. Overall, it was a great step in the right direction for a pitcher looking to earn back the trust of Boston fans.
Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price was no so brilliant, getting chased from the game very early on. He allowed three runs to the Sox in an ugly third inning, including RBI base hits allowed to both Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. That was it for Price, who threw 83 pitches over the 3 innings and was wildly ineffective.
The game stayed close until the 8th inning when the Sox offense blew away the Rays bullpen with an offensive flurry. The inning began with a Darnell McDonald double, followed by consecutive walks to Cody Ross and Mike Aviles, and a big 2-run double from catcher Kelly Shoppach who had a big offensive day, going 3-4 with three runs scored. But the floodgates had barely opened yet.
Ryan Sweeney got a two run base hit to left to make it 8-1 Sox, followed by base hits by Dustin Pedroia and Gonzalez to reload the bases for Kevin Youkilis, still with no one out in the inning. He plated two more runs with a single, followed by an RBI double for Ortiz to make it 11-1. Then McDonald came up to bat again, this time getting hit by a pitch. The Sox tacked on one more run on the first out of the inning, a sacrifice fly by Ross.
The 12-1 lead was given to Mark Melancon to hold in the ninth, who had struggled this season. He didn’t look great here either, surrendering a solo home run to Ben Zobrist, but still managed to hold on for the 12-2 win. It’s the second win of the year for the Red Sox who will hope to look equally as good tomorrow when Clay Buchholz takes the mound. Of course, the most significant story is the health of Ellsbury after he was injured sliding into second base, so we’ll await to hear about his status and whether a DL stint is in his future.