Texas Rangers Opening Day Game Recap:
Rangers 3, Mariners 2
- That was certainly an unusual Opening Day game. Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez are each legit #1 starters, neither had their A games, and yet both ended up having awfully good stat lines while combining to allow just 5 hits over 13 innings. The Rangers became the first team since at least 1900 to win on Opening Day while registering just one or zero hits.
- Hamels' day was kind of reminiscent of Game 161 last year, when he allowed a two out Mike Trout double followed by an Albert Pujols home run in the first inning, putting the Rangers in an early 2-0 hole. Hamels then shut the Angels down the rest of the way in that game, pitching a shutout. Hamels allowed home runs to two of the first five hitters he faced today, with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager both going deep against him to give the M's a 2-0 lead with nobody out in the top of the second inning, but as in Game 16
12, he kept the opponents off the board the rest of the way. Hamels didn't go 9 innings -- he was pulled after the 7th -- but he allowed just two more hits and didn't allow any additional runs.
- Really, after the Seager home run, Hamels only had a couple of innings where he was in any sort of jam. In the fourth, Hamels walked Nelson Cruz with one out, and then, after fanning Seager, he hit Franklin Gutierrez, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hamels struck out Adam Lind to end the inning. Then, in the 7th, Gutierrez drew a leadoff walk, and after a Lind strike out, Chris Iannetta singled to put runners on first and second with one out. Keona Kela and Jake Diekman were both warming in the pen, and after the M's lifted lefty Leonys Martin for righty pinch hitter Dae-Ho Lee, I figured Jeff Banister would bring Kela into the game. But he stuck with Hamels, who struck out Lee and Nori Aoki to end the inning.
- Hamels' final line: 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 8 Ks, 2 runs, both on solo home runs.
- Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless 8th inning, and Shawn Tolleson pitched a scoreless 9th inning, with neither pitcher allowing a baserunner. I wondered if Diekman would be left into the game to pitch to Seager in the 9th, but Tolleson came in, and induced a sharp grounder to the right side that produced a nifty play by Rougned Odor, who ranged deep into the hole after Mitch Moreland dived unsuccessfully for the ball, and made a nice throw to Tolleson covering, converting what could have been a leadoff single into an out.
- Odor also turned a nice 4-3 DP in the fifth...with Iannetta on first, Aoki hit a slow roller that looked like it would be too weak to get the 4-6-3 in time on. Odor was able to quickly field the ball, tag Iannetta and throw to first to get Aoki, ending the inning.
- Elvis Andrus made a highlight reel play in the third, ranging deep behind second to make a nice pick on a Ketel Marte grounder up the middle that looked like it was going for a single, and then making a strong spinning throw to nail him at first. Yay Elvis!
- Elvis Andrus also made a throwing error with two outs in the sixth, throwing high to first on a routine grounder that pulled Moreland off the bag and put Nelson Cruz on first base to bring Seager to the plate. Come on, Elvis!
- As for the bats...well, not much to say. There was little hard contact off of either Felix Hernandez or reliever Mike Montgomery today. The lone Ranger hit was a bloop opposite field single by Prince Fielder that might have gone 120 feet, and only fell in because of the shift. Texas did draw 6 walks and an HBP against an uncharacteristically wild King Felix, though.
- All the Ranger runs scored in the bottom of the fifth. Odor led off the inning with a walk, then stole second, and advanced to third on an Elvis grounder to shortstop that Seager misplayed, apparently as a result of looking up to see where Odor was. With runners on first and third and no one out, Robinson Chirinos bunted hard back to the mound. Elvis was running but Odor wasn't, leading to speculation that there was a missed sign, but Banister said after the game it was simply a safety squeeze that was bunted to hard for Odor to try to score. In any case, it put runners on second and third with one out for Delino DeShields. DeShields walked, bringing up Shin-Soo Choo, who drove in the first run of the game with a bases loaded walk, bringing up Prince. Prince hit that ridiculous bloop single, which drove home a run, and then another run scored when Adrian Beltre reached on a Marte error. With bases loaded and one out, it looked like Texas might be poised to break the game open, but Felix struck out Moreland and Ian Desmond to end the inning. Still, those three runs were all the scoring Texas needed.
- One weird play early on...DeShields led off the game reaching on a HBP, and then Choo hit into a fielder's choice, replacing DeShields at first. Choo ran on Felix, and got a great jump, stealing second easily...but the pitch to Prince was well inside near his feet, causing him to have to try to get out of the way, and home plate umpire Jim Joyce said that in doing so, Prince interfered with Iannetta's attempt to throw out Choo. Banister argued at length, to no avail, and the end result was that instead of a runner on second with one out and Prince up, Prince was called out and Choo was sent back to first.
- One other fun factoid...this was the first time Felix has lost on Opening Day, and the first time Hamels has won on Opening Day.
- The Texas Rangers are in first place. Let's enjoy it.