Maybe the Red Sox had an ace in the house after all.
Clay Buchholz was superb for Boston in his 2015 debut in Philadelphia Monday afternoon. The Sox righthander threw 3.2 hitless innings before giving up a double to Ryan Howard in the fourth. Buchholz would leave the game after pitching seven shutout innings, throwing 94 pitches. He gave up just three hits to go along with nine strikeouts with one walk.
"There's a lot of building up to this moment and I felt good all spring, so it was just another step, I guess," Buchholz said after the 8-0 win. "I was a little more anxious today than I have been for first starts, given all the attention to it, but after the first couple pitches it felt like a normal game...
"I felt really good getting ahead with the curveball. If I missed with it, throwing it again getting a strike, getting the count back to even, then sinker, only a few cutters today, but changeup, curveball, sinker were basically what I used, felt really good."
The Red Sox pounded Philly pitching for five home runs on the day.
Hanley Ramirez hit a ninth inning, broken-bat grand slam off Jake Diekman in addition to hitting an earlier solo shot in the fifth. Dustin Pedroia hit two solo home runs while Mookie Betts added another.
Ramirez was asked if he wanted to match Pedroia, who also hit two homers.
"Definitely, I told him," Ramirez said. "We've been putting a lot of work in [during] spring training to make sure we were ready to go Opening Day."
The highly touted Betts was also ready to go for opener, going 2-for-4 on the afternoon with the homer.
"The main thing is we won, so that's always going to be a memory," Betts said on NESN after the win.
Betts was impressed with the big day from Pedroia.
"I'm used to it," Betts said. "It's Dustin Pedroia. He plays defense, runs the bases, hits the ball, does everything so. There's a reason why he's where he's at and the way he plays."
Cole Hamels -- the Philly lefthander who is linked with Betts in the trade rumor department -- was gone after five ineffective innings, giving up four solo homers, while walking three and striking out six Red Sox batters.
"He looked great," Betts said of Hamels. "We got a couple of hits on pitches he left over the plate but other than that I thought he looked really good."
Red Sox DH David Ortiz managed to keep his feet in the batter's box during his four at-bats, but he could not get his bat on the ball, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
New third baseman Pablo Sandoval had a rough afternoon at the plate, going 0-for-5 on the day with three strikeouts.
In other news, righthander -- and Wednesday night's starter -- Rick Porcello has signed a four-year, $82.5 million extension to stay with the Red Sox. Follow the stream below for the latest.