Josh Beckett was booed by many before he took the field but - much more importantly - he walked off the field to a universal rousing ovation.
Talk about catharsis. It was the baseball version of Ralphie's beatdown of Scott Farkus. given how the Rays were able to bully the Red Sox down the stretch last season.
With Beckett dealing and the Rays throwing batting practice, it had all the look of 2007 and was the perfect antidote for last season's implosion.
And we learned that four out of five Red Sox pitchers prefer Popeye's - but we already knew that. As he and the Red Sox were mocked by the Popeye's sign near Kemore Square, Beckett took the best possible path toward redemption - he pitched eight innings and gave up only one run. The Red Sox followed that up with an eight-run, eighth inning that began with 46 pitches and 11 batters reaching base before the Rays could record an out.
The cloud in this silver lining - seeing Jacoby Ellsbury grimace after injuring his shoulder in the fourth inning. It appears he'll be out 6-8 weeks. Ouch. We'll be holding our breaths.
Otherwise, the day is worth another look. Here's how it went down. Enjoy:
5:28 p.m. - Red sox win 12-2. Melancon holds on.
5:26 p.m. - May have spoken too soon on Melancon. Home run. It's now 12-2.
5:20 p.m. - 8th inning comes to a merciful close. Ryan Sweeney leaves 'em loaded. What a bum! He only had one hit and two RBI the inning.
5:15 p.m. - Rays finally record first out of the eighth after 46 pitches, 11 batters and more than 30 minutes at the plate as the Red Sox score again. The 12-1 lead has now been certified "bullpen safe" by Elias Sports.
5:11 p.m. - Nine straight batters reach base. Seven runs in. No one out. 11-1. Think this one is Melancon-proof.
5:06 p.m. - Bases-loaded double for Youkllis - everybody is getting in on this beatdown. With Beckett dealing, both teams looking like it's 2007. 10-1 Red Sox. Nobody out.
4:59 p.m. - Kelly Shoppach delivers a little payback to his old team - doubling with the bases loaded, his second double of the day along with an 83-foot steal of second base. 6-1 Red Sox. This one is in the bag - all that's left is Beckett's exit.
4:39 p.m. - Beckett records his first K - overwhelming Carlos Pena with a breaking ball. Beckett gets a rousing ovation after Evan Longoria grounds out to end the eighth. This is the perfect time to sing "Sweet Caroline" - when the Red Sox are winning and Beckett has just tossed eight innings while giving up one run.
4:35 p.m. - Darnell McDonald is no Carl Crawford in left field. Makes a nice sliding grab to start off the 8th.
4:24 p.m. - Found this on You Tube - mucho cool video of the F-16 flyover shot from the Mass. Ave. bridge over the Charles River probably about 140 Smoots from the Cambridge side. Sound is nice touch. Love the calling out spot "treeline" at the four-second mark.
4:19 p.m. - Scott picks up loose paper at Fenway. Got to keep it clean. It is a dump, you know. Beckett through 7 innings - 1R, 5H and 0K. No reason to boo this. The goat horns are fading. Winning is the ultimate cure-all.
4:10 p.m. - Kelly Shoppach swipes second base. Closing in on Rickey Henderson, just 1,405 steals behind.
4:00 p.m. - Cody Ross looking like Coco Crisp out there in center. The man can play more roles than Tom Wilkinson.
3:49 p.m. - Beckett mowing them down. Has the page turned? 1-2-3 fifth. The transformation continues.
3:42 p.m. - Ellsbury hurt on another double-play, literally adding injury to Insult. That shoulder grab did not look good. Silver lining - 4-1 Red Sox.
3:20 p.m. - Sox had Price on the ropes and let him off. Double-play. Arrgh.
3:15 p.m. - Finally something to really , really, really, cheer about. Youkilis' sac-fly brings in Ellsbury to put the Red Sox up 2-1. Followed up by Papi's half-swing roller to third driving home Pedroia. Ortiz burning it up the line. Up 3-1 without an extra-base hit. Bobby Ball.
3:06 p.m. - Finally something to really cheer about. Second and third with nobody out.
2:48 p.m. - Reminded the the Rays held the Red Sox to a .192 batting average at Fenway last season. Nowhere to go but up in 2012 on that front.
2:33 p.m. - Top 2nd. Josh Beckett's scoreless inning streak ends at 1.
2:31 p.m. - Top 2nd. Josh Beckett's still pitching. That's a good sign.
1:59 p.m. - Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield - a "pair of Sox" - throwing out the first pitch. They get a great reception, as deserved. Wakefield may be back in the rotation by June the way things are going. Funny how Wakefield still doesn't pitch to Varitek, even in a ceremony like this. Beckett needs a new binky. Will he find it in Shoppach?
1:54 p.m. - Beckett hears plenty of boos, and some cheers. Mixed reaction at a stretch but no lovefest. Fans have demonstrated that they not forgotten. Good for them. No reason to sugarcoat last September or his first start in April. Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione cut it off the crowd pretty quickly. Lukewarm support for No. 19 - glad see fans either voiced their displeasure or kept their silence. Now we move on to 2012 and see what he's got today.
1:53 p.m. - Bobby Valentine gets a mixed reaction, plenty of audible boos. Loudest cheers for Dustin Pedroia - no surprise there - and Big Papi.
1:52 p.m. - Warm receptions for most players, including Alfredo Aceves.
1:50 p.m. - Ryan Sweeney slips coming out of the dugout. Carl Crawford gets a nice reception, as does Jon Lester. No one bothered to react to Mark Melancon.
1:43 p.m. - Rays' Luke Scott gets booed.
1:29 p.m. - First appearance by @jennydellnesn. At least we've got that.
1:15 p.m. - Larry Lucchino calls the opening week of the season a "double-bogey" on the first hole. John Henry gave an eight-year-old kid and his family free tickets to today's game. No word on whether or not the kid's dad got a case of Bud Light. On the passion of the fans, he said: "We're gonna get a few wins and everyone will be a littler calmer...I usually don't get worried until July."
12:30 p.m. - See that Luke Scott of the Tampa Bay Rays called Fenway Park a "dump." Has that fool ever been to Tropicana Field? Pot, meet kettle.
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