Rangers-Blue Jays: Texas Wins Opener in Walk-Off Behind Nelson Cruz's Big Day
I love baseball.
I love everything about it. For as long as I can remember, baseball has been the one thing that I have consistently adored.
I am a big sports fan in general, but nothing gets my blood pumping like a good baseball game.
The beginning of the game was extremely disheartening for Rangers fans. Going in with such high expectations, it was really hard to see Scott Feldman give up two home runs early, and the offense be completely absent.
Luckily, Feldman settled down, and so did his pitches. He was leaving a lot of his stuff up early in the game, which is bad news for a guy who traditionally gets lots of groundouts.
After the Opening Day jitters wore off, he settled down and went back to being the pitcher we all fell in love with. He actually had a quality start, going seven innings and allowing only three runs.
But, it could have been a lot more.
The Blue Jays got under a ton of Feldman’s pitches, luckily only the two got up in the jet stream, which was definitely blowing today, as evidenced by Texas right-fielder Nelson Cruz’s clutch home run.
Cruz's blast—a three-run job in the seventh inning—knocked the offense out of a funk that had been there since the first pitch.
Josh Hamilton got it started by being patient and drawing the walk, something we need him to do more of this year. Vlad Guerrero followed that up with a bloop single to right that set up Cruz with a chance to tie the game.
He took the 2-2 pitch deep over the right-center fence and brought the crowd to life for the first time in the 2010 season. It was quite the impressive shot, as it was well outside, but Cruz reached out there and powered it away.
With the game now tied, Neftali Feliz came in to fulfill his new role as the eighth-inning setup man and looked good to the first batter, but then became too predictable.
Everyone knows he has an overpowering fastball. Unfortunately, great players, which Vernon Wells is, can hit a great fastball if you show it too them enough.
Luckily, Darren Oliver came in to clean up for the young rookie and kept the damage to only one run. It is so nice to have such a proven veteran reliever to come in and calmly get us out of a tight spot.
Only down one going into the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers’ chances looked pretty good with the Nos. 2-4 hitters scheduled to come to the plate.
Michael Young got it started by hammering a ball into the right-center gap, fulfilling his role once again as the fire-starter.
Hamilton struck out, but Guerrero dribbled a single up the middle that Aaron Hill made a diving stop on to prevent the tying run from scoring.
It didn’t matter too much, though, as Cruz proved his worth once again, hitting a bloop double down the right field line and scoring Young from third.
The Blue Jays walked Chris Davis to create the force-out at home, setting the stage for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
After fouling off three pitches, Salty smashed a ball into right-center that the outfielders didn’t have a chance at to win the game.
It was the perfect start to a great season.
I loved how this team never gave up. They were straight up getting embarrassed by Marcum early, and rightly so, his stuff was nasty.
This team showed that they are willing to fight to get the wins they need. I also love that the winner came from an unlikely source in Salty. He is not really known for his offense, but he delivered this afternoon.
Everybody did what they needed to do to win, and that is what really matters. I am sure it felt good for Marcum to take a no-hitter into the seventh, but it is the end result that really matters, and we came out on top there.
Hats off to Scott Feldman for showing why he was given the honor of starting today.
Congrats to Cruz on a monster first game. He is on pace to hit 162 home runs and knock in 648 runs. I’m just saying…
And well done Saltalamacchia on getting your first walk-off hit.
So, here’s to a great first game, and the beginning to what is going to be an historic season.
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