BOSTON – Glitz and glamour. Pomp and pageantry. Those usually describe home-opening ceremonies at Fenway Park.

Friday’s opener seemed a little toned down, except for a classy national anthem performance with chorus and brass. Maybe the front office is holding back until the certain-to-be over-the-top celebration marking Fenway’s 100th anniversary.

As for the baseball, it was a good, laborious victory for the home team.

There were no walk-off home runs to gleefully recount this morning. Heck, no Red Sox home runs at all.

As for Josh Beckett’s winning performance, there were no K cards being waved or tacked up. Beckett recorded only one strikeout, which came in the eighth inning.

The fireballing Beckett is turning into the locating Beckett. Not real sexy but oh, so efficient.

So when we talk about Friday’s 12-2 victory over nemesis Tampa Bay, forget the glittery adjectives. Call it what it was:

A grind.

Boston belted no homers, but it was one of its best offensive displays — and we’re not talking about the eight-hit/eight-run eighth inning.

Before it was a rout, the Red Sox took pitches and fouled others off, making All-Star David Price work harder than he ever has at Fenway.

By the end of the third inning, Price was up to 83 pitches and gone (Beckett didn’t throw his 83rd pitch until the eighth inning).

“We got David out of the game early and that was huge,” Dustin Pedroia said. “That’s how our offense is. We try to wear down the starting pitchers and we weren’t doing that the first six games.

“We got back to our approach and it worked out for us.”

Leadoff batter Jacoby Ellsbury (a news story himself on Friday) began with a six-pitch at-bat. The next four batters worked full counts, totaling 30 pitches.

Beckett watched his teammates from the bench with admiration.

“Our guys did a really good job of grinding out and really getting his pitch count up,” Beckett said.

Price came into Friday with a 3-0 record at Fenway, and a 1.75 ERA. But the Red Sox, with only three hits through three innings, chased him out of the game.

Leading the offense was none other than a former-Sea Dogs, former-Rays catcher, Kelly Shoppach, who batted .176 last season. Shoppach looked like he was at Hadlock Field again (where he had 96 hits in 92 games in 2003).

Shoppach was hit by a Price fastball in the third inning (a Shoppach trademark, turning his left bicep into an inside pitch) and then feasted on the Tampa Bay bullpen for three hits, including two doubles.

As for Price’s counterpart, Beckett was in danger of pitching his first game without a strikeout. But his streak continues, now at 281 games.

Beckett said the lack of strikeouts was because of Tampa Bay’s approach of swinging early on him.

“They were not letting me get ahead or behind,” Beckett said.

Beckett used a lot of off-speed pitches, as well as a fastball that was consistently at 91 mph. In a sense, he also was grinding away, not able to blow guys away but working each batter.

“You’ve just got to locate a little better,” Beckett said. “Getting ahead is a little more important because you’re not going to be able to throw balls by guys down the middle.”

But don’t think Beckett is going to get all Greg Maddux on us. He still thinks he can work to becoming the flame-thrower again.

“I don’t throw 85 miles per hour,” he said. “I definitely don’t throw 95 as consistently as I’d like to. I’d like to think my arm strength is going to get back there this year, and I’ll probably be touching that again.”

Whether it’s 95 or 91, as long as Beckett grinds away with his teammates, these Red Sox could be enjoying this season long after opening day.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases