Behind Beckett, Sox roll in home opener

Behind Beckett, Sox roll in home opener

BOSTON -- Just throw on the white uniforms, take a look at the inviting Green Monster and hack away. To the Red Sox, it seemed that was all that it took to break out of what had been an almost team-wide hitting slump over the first six games.

Amid the familiar comforts of home for the first time this season, the Sox put a 14-3 walloping on the rusty Mariners, who hadn't played an official game in six days, thanks to the Cleveland snow.

It was quite a way to officially ring in season No. 96 at Fenway Park. The feel-good atmosphere from the pregame festivities -- highlighted by a rousing ovation for Daisuke Matsuzaka and a celebration of the 1967 Impossible Dream team -- carried right over into the game.

"It was great," said new Sox right fielder J.D. Drew. "Coming into the ballpark and seeing people around the field and just the excitement of getting ready for another home opener. There's always something special about coming back and putting on the home whites. I was definitely excited to get used to just the overall environment that is Boston baseball."

Often times over the years, Boston baseball has featured the home team bashing the ball to all parts of the yard. Tuesday was your basic case in point on a day the Red Sox belted 14 hits and produced their second highest run total for a Fenway opener in team history. The 1973 team pounded the Yankees, 15-5, to open that season.

The beneficiary of all the offense was right-hander Josh Beckett, not that he needed much of it. Beckett was in top form, holding the Mariners to two hits over seven innings while walking nobody and striking out eight. Economical as ever, Beckett threw 84 pitches before giving way to the bullpen for the final two frames.

"I thought he pitched a very good ballgame from start to finish," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It's obviously nice to get runs but I thought he stayed with his game plan and didn't waver from that or let the score sway his concentration at all. He did very well."

Meanwhile, Mariners starter Jeff Weaver endured a pounding, giving up seven hits and seven runs over two innings.

The hits seemed to come from everywhere. Drew delivered three RBIs, two of which came on a two-run homer to center. Julio Lugo had a similarly strong debut in his new uniform, scoring twice and driving in two runs. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek each had three hits.

"Coming here, you want to do well and impress people and let people know why they brought you here," said Lugo.

Drew, who has been red-hot since Spring Training, took what looked to be a one-hand swing on the homer.


"There's always something special about coming back and putting on the home whites. I was definitely excited to get used to just the overall environment that is Boston baseball."
-- J.D. Drew

"He didn't look like he hit it that well and then it kept going and going," said Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "That's how strong he is. He's put some great at-bats together in a row. He's done a great job."

With an 11-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Francona had the luxury of having Eric Hinske bat for Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena pinch-hit for Drew. Alex Cora and Doug Mirabelli would also get off the bench as the afternoon wore on.

The only tension on the entire day came in the top of the eighth, when Red Sox reliever Brendan Donnelly and Mariners right fielder Jose Guillen had words after the latter struck out. It was unclear what the argument was about. Guillen was thrown out of the game for walking towards Donnelly.

Both benches emptied, but there was no altercation of any kind. Donnelly then hit Kenji Johjima, and the right-hander was immediately ejected from the game.

Donnelly and Guillen were teammates with the Angels, and have an icy relationship. When Guillen's Nationals faced the Angels in 2005, Donnelly was ejected for using pine tar on his glove.

"I'm not going to take a personal grudge and then make it into the team's grudge," said Donnelly.

Once that situation settled down, it was back to business. Hideki Okajima recorded the final two outs of the eighth and Mike Timlin, who was activated before the game, worked off some rust in giving up two runs and two hits in the ninth.

Then it was time for "Dirty Water" to boom over the ballpark speakers, a sign that the Fenway year had started just as the fans hoped.

"We kind of pulled out the whuppin' stick a little bit today," said Beckett. "Them being off for a little while I think definitely affected their pitchers [in terms] of being able to throw strikes."

As for the Red Sox, they struck with their bats all afternoon long.

"It seemed like everybody hit the ball hard," said Pedroia. "It was definitely good because the road trip, it seemed like we didn't have as good at-bats. It was good today. I think everybody squared at least two balls up."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.