BOSTON — The Red Sox dominated their historic homecoming.
Josh Beckett pitched eight strong innings in Boston’s 12-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The lineup finished with 16 hits, and outfielders made several diving grabs on Friday. Everything seemed to go right for the Red Sox in the home opener of their 101st season at Fenway Park.
Jacoby Ellsbury, runner-up in last year’s AL MVP voting, hurt his right shoulder on a slide into second base in the fourth inning and is expected to miss some time. He went to Massachusetts General Hospital, but there was no update on his condition.
“Hopefully, the MRI doesn’t show anything structurally damaged or anything like that (and) the soreness can go away in a few days and he’ll be back in a few days,” Adrian Gonzalez said.
Ellsbury hit .321 with 39 stolen bases last season, but the Red Sox didn’t miss their center fielder’s hitting or running on Friday. Gonzalez and Kelly Shoppach had three hits apiece, and Shoppach was successful on the first stolen base attempt of his career when he made an awkward, bouncing slide.
Beckett’s performance was the most impressive for the Red Sox, who came home after a 1-5 road trip that included a 10-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers in which he allowed five homers.
But Beckett (1-1), troubled by a thumb injury in spring training, limited the Rays to one run and five hits. He struck out just one, getting Carlos Pena in the eighth and extending his streak to 281 games with at least one strikeout since the start of his career. Only Dwight Gooden has a longer streak to begin his career, 349 games from 1984 to 1997.
“It’s just what the doctor ordered,” Bobby Valentine said after his first home game as Boston’s manager. “We were wondering and hoping and he relieved all doubt. He threw great curveballs, had terrific control, threw all his fastballs over 90 mph.”
Beckett improved to 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA in five home openers for the Red Sox.
“The guys played really good defense,” he said. “They gave me the confidence to go out there and really pound the strike zone.”
David Price (1-1) lasted just three innings for Tampa Bay, departing after he allowed three runs in the third.
“I’m going to have 33, 34 starts this year,” he said. “There’s going to be one or two starts (when) you don’t have it. My body felt good, my arm felt good.”
The Red Sox put the game away with eight runs in the eighth when the first 10 batters reached.
“I wasn’t displeased,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was a 4-1 game in the eighth, then, all of a sudden, it turns into a bad baseball game.”
The Rays went ahead 1-0 in the second on a single by Ben Zobrist and a double by Jeff Keppinger. That was Tampa Bay’s last hit until Matt Joyce singled with two outs in the sixth. Jose Molina added a two-out single in the seventh before Beckett retired his last four batters.
“”Obviously he wasn’t throwing 96, 97 (mph) like he has in the past,” Joyce said. “He’s using that changeup and throwing that curveball.”
Zobrist also hit his first homer of the year, a solo shot in the ninth.
The Red Sox took the lead for good in the third when they loaded the bases on a walk to Shoppach, a double by Ellsbury and a walk to Dustin Pedroia. Gonzalez singled in a run, Kevin Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly and David Ortiz added an RBI single.
Boston made it 4-1 in the fourth off Burke Badenhop on a double by Shoppach and a single by Ellsbury. On the next play, Pedroia grounded to Brignac, who stepped on second and fired to first to complete the double play. But he landed on Ellsbury’s right arm.
Ellsbury walked off the field while keeping his right arm bent at the elbow.
Boston broke the game open in the eighth with eight hits, including a two-run double by Shoppach and two-run singles by Youkilis and Ryan Sweeney.
Sweeney entered the game in right field and Cody Ross moved to center after Ellsbury was hurt.
“Hopefully I’m not out (in center) too long,” Ross said. “I just watched the replay and it didn’t look good.”
NOTES: On the last day of the 2011 regular season, the Rays edged Boston for the AL wild-card spot when they rallied to beat the Yankees minutes after the Red Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles. … Price is 10-2 in opposing AL East parks. … Tampa Bay is 1-3 since starting the season with a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees. … Pedroia’s streak of homers in his last three home openers came to an end.