The calendar on the clubhouse wall claims it has been nearly six months since the Boston Red Sox have played baseball at their Jersey St. hangout, but the 32,000 fans on hand for yesterday's Fenway opener knew better. It has been just a long yesterday since the Series games of Luis Tiant's pitching gyrations and Carlton Fisk's dancing home run--and the dream deferred last October quickly redeveloped for the Fenway faithful as the Red Sox, powered by a ten hit attack, downed the Cleveland Indians yesterday, 7-4.
There were a few changes in the Hose's homecoming--some new names on the roster, an American League pennant blowing crazily in center field, meter marks indicating the distance down the lines, and $1.2 million scoreboard that led the crowd in a National Anthem sing-along, and flashed instant replays and useless batting line-ups throughout the game.
But by and large the roster that played to rave reviews last year remained the same. Rico Petrocelli belted out three hits and the outfield trio of Jim Rice, Freddy Lynn and Dwight Evans combined for a melody of five hits (three of them for extra bases), as the offense that appeared dormant in Baltimore emerged from its winter hibernation.
All was not joyful in Mudville, however, as Bosox starter Bill Lee was badly battered in the 3 and 2/3 innings he worked. Lee was tagged for two solo home runs, gave up seven hits and walked five Indians before heading to the showers.
The visitors took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a left field screen shot by Rico Carty. But Boston came right back in the bottom half of the box thanks to some "how to misjudge a simple fly ball" schenanigans by Cleveland leftfielder, Charlie Spikes.
Spikes zeroed in on a Jim Rice fly and missed it by a yard, allowing Rice to reach third. Rice then scored on a fielder's choice by Carl Yastrzemski. And after Fisk hit into a double play it was time for Spikes to regenerate the Sox rally.
A Dewey Evans fly ball was handily missed by Spikes and Evans wound up on second with a dubious double. An off-the-wall single by Petrocelli drove in Evans with the second Boston run.
A third-inning homer by Cleveland's Buddy Bell and a two-run scoring burst in the fourth was enough for coach Darrell Johnson to lift Lee in favor of reliever Reggie Cleveland.
While Cleveland held his namesake to just two hits the rest of the way, his teammates provided the offense. Aided by five Indian errors the Sox scored two in the fourth, one in the fifth and sixth (on a Fisk roundtripper), and a final single tally in the eighth inning to gain the 7-4 decision.