The smell of hot dogs, the dripping cheese of nachos, the stickiness of cotton candy, bunting decorations, new red uniforms, 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush, fly-over from two B-1 Bombers, baseball season is back my friends and not a moment too soon.
The Rangers are coming into this seasons opening day on a five game losing streak, they faced the 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, and Kevin Millwood has never won an opening day start in a Ranger uniform, all bad signs to start the day…right?
The best thing about streaks, records, and rules, is that they have to be broken.
To start the game off 10 of the first 11 batters were retired, Mark DeRosa drew a walk in the first only to be doubled up in one of the Rangers two double plays on the day.
Ranger DH Hank Blalock lined a bullet off of Lee and reached on an infield single with one out. Marlon Byrd followed with a double to left and then Chris Davis struck out.
But with two outs the onslaught began. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single to right scored two runs, then in his first Major League at-bat Elvis Andrus doubled down the right field line.
With runners again at second an third with two outs, Ian Kinsler smashed one of his three hits to center field scoring both runs.
The Rangers batted around in the second inning scoring four runs on five hits.
The game stayed rather quiet through the next few innings, until the bottom of the fifth. Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz started the inning off with back-to-back line drive singles to the outfield, before Blalock launched a Lee pitch to deep right field to extend the Ranger lead to 7-0.
Enjoying all the run support, Ranger ace Kevin Millwood put together seven strong innings of work. The only run he allowed was on a wild pitch in the seventh allowing Travis Hafner to score from third.
But aside from that one blemish Millwood threw 113 pitches (72 strikes), gave up five hits, one walk, induced two double plays, and struck-out five.
Relief pitchers C.J. Wilson and Frank Francisco each pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Each needed less than 12 pitches and strook out one as well.
The Rangers added their last two runs in the bottom of the eighth behind Salty’s solo home run to left-center field and an RBI single from Michael Young scoring Kinsler from second.
The two teams have Tuesday off, but go at it again on Wednesday when Fausto Carmona (CLE) faces Vicente Padilla (TEX).
Travis Hafner: 1-4, run scored
Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Shin-Soo Choo, and Ben Francisco each with one hit
Ian Kinsler: 3-5, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, run scored
Hank Blalock: 2-4, Home Run, 3 RBI, 2 runs
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 2-4, Home Run, 3 RBI, 2 runs
Rangers pitching: 9 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 1 BB, 7 K, 134 pitches