Dude. The Red Sox are going to win the World Series.

Alright, maybe that’s too bold a statement. Let’s just say they totally went above and beyond my wildest expectations in the first game of the 2006 season.

First, we had the Schill-dog giving up a measly 5 hits over 7 innings and looking more godlike than gimpy for the first time in some time. Okay, one of those hits was a two-run homer by Hank Blalock, but the guy hit 96 on the radar gun and located his pitches quite nicely, collecting five Ks and walking only one batter.

Second, we had Covelli Crisp, who went 1-for-5, but made a couple tremendous snags in the outfield, including this spectacular bit of backhanded goodness off a Laynce Nix bullet in the ninth. Guy also gets around the bases like he’s jetpack-propelled. Not since Pokey Reese’s 2004 inside-the-park job at Fenway have I seen a Sox player motor like that. And his charming post-game interviews are only the icing on the cake. This guy’s gonna be the Mayor of Boston by August.

Third, we had Papi. Who just shows up, punches the clock, belts three hits including a two-run homer, then grabs his sack lunch and moseys out into the sunset, as the closing theme music to The Incredible Hulk lilts softly in the background.

We also had some big hits from unlikely places. Mike Lowell, who during his first couple at bats looked every bit the smacked ass we feared he’d be, conked a shot to left field in the eighth. A-Gon, who more or less went 0-for-spring training, picked up a couple hits.

We also had Theo and crew making nice-nice with Roger Clemens, dragging out secret weapon #452-B (AKA Rocket’s pal and former drinking buddy Al Nipper) and generally doing their best to lure the dude back to Boston for another go-round. Though I’m never one to underestimate the sheer prickitude of the Hendricks Brothers or our friends in the Bronx, hearing Roger talk, you’d swear Boston is about the only place he’s considering. I’ll admit, I’m all caught up in this.

It wasn’t all cupcakes and handjobs, though. Keith Foulke is apparently still stuck in 2005 form, and the two hits and one run he gave up might have been worse had Crisp not handled Nix’s wall-bound shot. Kevin Youkilis, who gets no love here at SG, went 0-for-4, the only starter without a hit.

But these, for now, are minor details. Our boys are back. And everything is right in the world once again. Tonight, we get Wakefield. Tomorrow, we get Beckett. Let it roll.

PS: If you’ve got Comcast, by all means indulge in the recreational drug that is the free weeklong preview of MLB’s Extra Innings.

Out and around: DLowe got spanked in his opening day start for the Dodgers, giving up 8 runs over 5, but freakin’ LA almost came back. Nomar sat out with a muscle pull. Hmmmm. El Bencho got a couple hits for the Os, and it’s worth checking the replays to see him hauling his ample ass around the bases. Bellhorn struck out in one pinch hit appearance for the Padres, while Roberts went 1-for-4. Oh, and HEL-LO Tina Cervasio, NESN’s onfield reporter for the Sox games, whose favorite piece of clothing, according to her NESN bio is “this one pair of ripped Seven jeans”.

“Hi, Red.”