screen-shot-2017-04-04-at-7-14-48-pmBy Brian Danuff 4/4/2017

No David Ortiz? No problem.

Andrew Benintendi wasted no time starting a new chapter in Boston Red Sox history, as the rookie’s three-run home run lifted the Red Sox over the Pirates, 5-3, on Opening Day.

The game began as a pitcher’s duel, with aces Rick Porcello and Gerrit Cole trading zeroes through the first four innings. Cole got two quick outs in the bottom of the 5th, but just as quickly ran into trouble.

Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled and was driven in by a revitalized Pablo Sandoval on an RBI single. Sandy Leon reached on a bunt single, and Dustin Pedroia also singled to bring Sandoval home.

That’s when Benintendi stepped up to the plate and sent Cole’s 2-2 pitch into the visitors’ bullpen in right field. The crack of the bat and the way the ball carried over the wall couldn’t help but remind you of a lumbering Big Papi taking a stroll around the bases. Instead, it was the 22-year-old rookie who flew home and gave the Red Sox a commanding 5-0 lead.

The Pirates did battle back, scoring three runs in the 7th inning and chasing Porcello from the game. They even managed to put the tying run on base in the 9th, but closer Craig Kimbrel was able to nail down his first save of the season.

In front of a sold-out Fenway Park, the Red Sox clearly weren’t mourning the retirement of Ortiz. Instead, they were celebrating and showcasing their very bright future.

Both teams will get a day off today before returning to action tomorrow. Lefty Chris Sale will make his long-awaited Red Sox debut and righty Jameson Taillon will toe the rubber for the Pirates.