CLEVELAND (AP) — The extra day didn’t bother the Red Sox and neither did the stinging cold.
New ace David Price delivered in his Boston debut. And, as usual, so did David Ortiz.
“When the light goes on, Papi goes on,” Ortiz said.
Price struck out 10 and won his weather-delayed first start for Boston and Ortiz began his farewell tour with a two-run homer, leading the Red Sox to a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians, who were forced to push their season opener back a day because of wintry conditions.
Price gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, giving the Red Sox an immediate payoff after they signed the left-hander to a seven-year, $217 million contract in December. Boston is hoping Price can push them back into contention in the AL East after the club finished last in the division three of the past four seasons.
Price set the tone for Boston’s reconfigured bullpen and he and three relievers didn’t allow a hit after the fifth inning and retired 16 of the last 18 Cleveland hitters.
Ortiz began his final season with a bang, connecting for his 504th homer in the ninth. Big Papi tied Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for 26th place on the career list and added a double.
With one out, Ortiz ripped a pitch from Trevor Bauer over the wall in right. When he crossed home plate, Ortiz pointed skyward as the Red Sox fans in attendance roared. It’s a sight Indians manager Terry Francona has seen many times before.
“He’s smart and dangerous,” said Francona, who won two World Series titles with Ortiz in Boston. “I wish he would have retired this year.”
Ortiz batted just .178 during spring training, but he’s locked in now that games matter.
“He’s still got it, absolutely,” Price said of his new teammate. “I know he doesn’t care about spring training. He’s saving it all for the season. The opposing pitchers don’t want to see him in that box.”
Boston’s Mookie Betts homered in the second off Corey Kluber, tagged with a loss in the opener for the second straight year. Cleveland’s ace gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Monday’s opener was postponed before the gates opened in Progressive Field, where the wind chill dipped temperatures into the upper teens. It was warmer — 34 degrees — and sunny when Kluber fired his first pitch to Betts, but there also thousands of empty seats as many fans couldn’t afford to take a second day off work.
Price didn’t disappoint Boston’s faithful, who envision him turning the Red Sox back into a power. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth and improved to 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 14 starts against Cleveland.
Boston’s win was also meaningful to manager John Farrell, who left the club last season after he was diagnosed with cancer.
The Red Sox broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth on Brock Holt’s RBI single and Kluber’s wild pitch.
Betts struck out leading off the first, but Boston’s right fielder didn’t miss one of Kluber’s sliders in the third.
After Jackie Bradley singled, Betts connected on a 1-1 pitch, driving it into the left-field bleachers. It was the second straight season Betts has homered in the opener. He hit a solo shot last season in a win at Philadelphia.
The Indians scored twice to tie it in the fourth off Price, who coasted through three innings and was threatening to turn his initial outing for Boston into something historic. He struck out six and easily handled a Cleveland lineup missing its best hitter, injured outfielder Michael Brantley.
Yan Gomes hit an RBI single and Marlon Byrd added a sacrifice fly for Cleveland in the fourth.
Ortiz’s double was the 585th of his career, moving him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 17th all-time. Ortiz also started at DH on opening day for the 13th time, passing Don Baylor (1977-88) for the most starts at that spot.
Red Sox: RHP Carson Smith (strained flexor muscle) has been throwing in Florida. Farrell said Smith, who is on the 15-day disabled list, will begin a throwing program that will extend to 120 feet before he gets back on the mound.
Red Sox: RHP Clay Buchholz, who started Boston’s opener in 2015, begins his 10th season with the Red Sox. Buchholz went 7-7 last season, but made only 18 starts because of a strained elbow.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco will face the Red Sox for the first time since 2011. The 29-year-old finished last season with at least five strikeouts in 18 straight outings, the longest streak by a Cleveland pitcher since Hall of Famer Bob Feller did it 23 times in 1946.