Game 1: How good is Josh Beckett?

For a photo gallery of today's game, click here.

Hello, Rays. Meet Josh Beckett. The new and improved version.

Yeah, he was pretty good last year, but as you saw today, he's gotten even better. Beckett went seven innings in the Sox opener, allowed just two hits, one run, walked three and struck out 10.

Mr. Money.

Despite a rough inning by both Hideki Okajima and Justin Masterson in relief, the Red Sox held on for a 5-3 win. Jonathan Papelbon earned the save with a two-strikeout 9th inning.

Providing the offense was a handful of players, including Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek who both hit solo home runs. Don't adjust your computer screen -- yes, I said Varitek. Jason Bay, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell each had RBIs to round out the score.

Don't be fooled: this was a statement game. Beckett wasn't happy leaving the playoffs early last year and he was going to let the Rays know that today. Other than a rough 4th inning, Beckett painted the corners all day and his stuff was just filthy. Just ask Carlos Pena who struck out three times against Beckett (and once more against Masterson).

The offense looked very solid today, outside of Jacoby Ellsbury who did not reach base. Every other starter had at least one hit, while Kevin Youkilis notched two for himself. Personally, I was excited every time the middle of the lineup came to bat. How great is it to see Youkilis come up and then to be followed by bats like Drew, Bay and Lowell? Is there a hole in this lineup? I don't see one as of yet.

For the Rays, James Shields did not show his best stuff. The Sox tagged him for five hits and nine runs before he exited with one out in the 6th inning. His ERA stands at a solid 8.44 on the season.

Tomorrow it's Jon Lester versus Scott Kazmir at 7:10 p.m.

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