Red Sox 12, Blue Jays 2

Gain and pain

Ellsbury hurt in home opening win

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 14, 2012
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There was music pumping through the Red Sox clubhouse after Friday’s much-needed 12-2 pasting of the Tampa Bay Rays in the home opener.

Several of the players’ children were underfoot, playing impromptu games of catch or looking to grab handfuls of bubble gum as their fathers conducted interviews.

Dinner plans were being made and spirits were high right up until the televisions on the ceiling showed a replay of Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury in the fourth inning.

Kevin Youkilis winced and David Ortiz muttered an expletive as they again watched Rays shortstop Reid Brignac land on Ellsbury’s right shoulder. What looked painful at the time seemed worse in slow motion.

“That’s tough to watch,’’ Ortiz said. “That’s one of our best players right there.’’

It is uncertain how long Ellsbury will be out, although a baseball source Friday night said the center fielder has a dislocated or partially dislocated shoulder and will miss 6-8 weeks.

The Red Sox are already without left fielder Carl Crawford, closer Andrew Bailey, and a crowd of others. Ellsbury, who finished second in the American League Most Valuable Player voting last season, would make it 10 players on the disabled list.

The loss of Ellsbury took some of the joy from what was a satisfying victory for the Sox after a 1-5 road trip. It was their eighth straight victory in the home opener.

The Sox battered five Tampa Bay pitchers for 16 hits and six walks. Leading, 4-1, after seven innings, the Sox sent 14 batters to the plate in the eighth inning and scored eight runs.

Kelly Shoppach had three hits, scored three runs, and drove in two against his former team. He also had his first career stolen base, his belly-flop slide drawing laughs from the sold-out crowd.

Youkilis drove in three runs and Ortiz drove in two on a day when the entire lineup contributed.

After a road trip fraught with frustration, the Sox found a lot of holes.

“Everyone needed just to know it’s not the baseball god turning against us,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “We hit balls hard and they caught them. Today we hit balls soft and they didn’t catch them. That’s a really good thing.’’

Josh Beckett appreciated the run support on a day when he didn’t need much.

The righthander, trashed by Detroit in his first start, stuffed the Rays for eight innings. He allowed one run on five hits, putting to rest concerns that his injured right thumb was more debilitating than he and the Sox were letting on.

Beckett, booed a bit when introduced for his role in last season’s collapse, heard only cheers once he started pitching.

“It was just what the doctor ordered. We were wondering and hoping and he relieved all doubt,’’ Valentine said. “That was the performance that we were looking for.’’

Beckett needed only 94 pitches to get through eight innings. In four of those innings, he needed nine or fewer to record three outs.

“The guys played really good defense, that’s the key,’’ Beckett said. “They gave me the confidence to go out there and really pound the strike zone.’’

The Rays helped with an aggressive approach, swinging early in the count. That allowed Beckett to use offspeed pitches to his advantage and induce some easy outs. The balls hit hard - and there were a few - were tracked down, for the most part. Cody Ross made a diving catch in right field and Darnell McDonald one in left to steal hits.

“It was just one of those games, everything we hit was caught, everything they hit was finding a hole,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “[Beckett] just competes.’’

As the Rays swung early, the Sox stuck to their game plan against Rays starter David Price and worked deep counts.

“That’s our style and we got away from it on the road trip,’’ said Dustin Pedroia, who singled, walked, and scored two runs. “We really focused on that against Price.’’

Price was at 45 pitches after two innings but unscathed. That changed in the third inning.

Shoppach was hit by a 2-and-2 fastball. Ellsbury then dropped a double down the line in left, the softly hit ball landing in just the right place.

Pedroia walked on five pitches to load the bases, Price clearly working around him to get to double-play candidate Adrian Gonzalez. But Gonzalez, down two strikes right away, knocked a 96-mile-per-hour fastball into left field to drive in the first Fenway run of the season for the Sox.

“I thought Adrian took that real personally and he came up big,’’ Valentine said.

Youkilis, also behind in the count, delivered a sacrifice fly to right field. Ortiz then took a half-swing at a ball on the outside corner, inadvertently making contact but producing an RBI infield single.

Shoppach had the big hit in the eighth inning, a two-run double.

The celebration will be brief. Starting Saturday, the Sox will have to adjust to missing Ellsbury.

“I can play out there but we need him back,’’ said Ross, who moved to center when Ellsbury left the game. “This was a good win, but we’re all worried about Jacoby.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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