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The lights were on by the second inning, the field was soggy, and Jack Brohamer was at third, but it was opening day all the same yesterday and the Red Sox planted some hope in the hearts of their nervous followers with a 7-1 pasting of the Cleveland Indians.
Jim Rice, who stroked a Rick Wise slider into the screen for three third-inning runs, Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn provided Boston's wallop, and Dennis Eckersley kept the Tribe subdued with seven innings of two-hit pitching.
The chilled opening day crowd gave Red Sox manager Don Zimmer a round of boos when he was introduced, and some of their lustiest cheers were saved for the scoreboard operator who posted the results of the Yankees-Brewers dogfight in New York: Brewers 5, Pinstripes (led by Ron Guidry) 1.
There was plenty more for the Fenway faithful to applaud--stand-ins Bob Montgomery (behind the plate for sore-armed Carlton Fisk) and Jack Brohamer (playing third base until Butch Hobson is ready to throw again) each banged out a double and a triple. Montgomery added a single, and Brohamer turned three nifty plays at the hot corner to lift one burden off the shoulders of New England.
Rice, who opened the Sox scoring with his blast in the third, also notched the first Boston hit of the season, knocking a Wise fastball into center field to bring the crowd to its feet. His screen job drove home Jerry Remy, who started the stanza with a single, and Fred Lynn, who got a pass from Wise to crown the bases.
The Sox kept the pressure on in the fourth when Dewey hit his homer, a towering foul corraled into fair territory by the blustering wind.
Montgomery tripled on the next pitch and Indian shortstop Tom Veryzer brought him home with a wild throw that scooted past Andre Thornton at first.
Ther heart of Boston's batting order went down in order in the fifth, but Brohamer, who gave skidding right fielder Bobby Bonds fits all day, hammered a triple off the fence in right to get things started again in the sixth.
Montgomery, his mate in the bottom third of the batting order, drove Brohamer home moments later with a base hit up the middle on a 3-and-2 pitch.
Lynn's seventh inning homer rounded out the Sox scoring, but Yaz gave the Red Sox fans their final moment of emotion in the game. The captain, who began the game the same way he ended last year's play off with the Yanks by flying out to the third baseman, blasted a smoking base-hit into center field in the seventh.
The Indians threatened only three times all afternoon. Jim Norris doubled to left center in the first, but Eckersley struck out Bonds and Thornton to end the uprising.
Toby Harrah stole second in the third inning, and went on to third when Burleson bobbled a slowly hit Norris grounder. Bonds whiffed again, though, and the Tribe scare was over.
Cleveland picked up its only run in the ninth when Remy dropped a hopper behind second base that should have been a double play. Dick Drago, who started the eighth in relief of Eckersley and certainly didn't prove his ability as a stopgap, threw a pitch in the dirt to advance the runners to second and third, and Veryzer brough Gary Alexander home with a Texas Leaguer over Remy's outstretched hands.
The sun broke through the clouds as the game ended, shining down on 34,433 chilled but cheering Sox fans. The Indians aren't the Yankees, but it won't be too long, and in springtime at Fenway anything's possible.
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