It was a perfect setting for a opening day game at The Ballpark in Arlington with temperature hovering just below 80 degrees and cloud cover for most of the game. Ian Kinsler received the ceremonial first pitch from Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, although Kinsler is on the disabled list and shouldn’t be ready until the middle of the month.
After the F16 flyover it was time for baseball and it was Scott Feldman who won 17 games in 2009 for the Rangers starting against Shaun Marcum of the Blue Jays who missed all of 2009 due to Tommy John Surgery. The ending of the game was even more perfect after a walk off win thanks to the bat of Jarrod Saltlamacchia.
Early in the first inning Feldman ran into trouble allowing a base hit to Adam Lind before Arlington native Vernon Wells homered on a fly ball to left field. Feldman was then able to escape the inning with the Rangers down 0-2.
The first two innings the Rangers didn’t get on base other than new addition Vladimir Guerrero being hit by a pitch in the second inning before the inning ended in a double play.
In the third inning Feldman, allowed another home run, this time to Adam Lind to allow the Blue Jays to go up 3-0 against the Rangers. The next couple of innings, Feldman was able to settle down and not allow a run. Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum was able to carry a no-hitter through 6 innings. Rangers starter Scott Feldman went seven innings giving up only three runs which kept the Rangers in the game.
In the seventh inning Shaun Marcum came in trouble by walking Josh Hamilton after easily taking care of Michael Young on a fly ball to Vernon Wells. Vladimir Guerrero then singled to right field to move Hamilton to second.
At this point the Rangers were down 0-3, but with one swing of the bat from Nelson Cruz the pitch was deposited in right center field and the Rangers tied the Jays at 3-3. The last two outs of the inning were made by Chris Davis and Jarrod Saltlamacchia.
At the start of the inning Neftali Feliz replaces Scott Feldman and quickly gets Travis Snider to strike out swinging. Jose Bautista steps up to the plate and walks on four straight balls. Feliz was hitting the upper nineties with all of his pitches, but just couldn’t hit the strike zone.
Aaron Hill steps up to the plate and doubles which moves Bautista to third. Since Adam Lind has already singled and homered in the game, it is decided to walk him intentionally to face Vernon Wells.
Down two stikes to no balls, Wells singles to left feild, scoring Jose Bautista from third base. Aaron Hill moves to 3rd and Adam Lind to 2nd. The score is now 4-3 Blue Jays with 1 out.
Darren Oliver then relieves Feliz and gets Lyle Overbay out on called strikes. Then John Buck flies out to left fielder Hamilton to end of the top of the eighth.
The Blue Jays then replace starting pitcher Shaun Marcum with Scott Downs. New Addition Ryan Garko then grounds out for the first out. Elvis Andrus then proceeds to line out for the second out and Julio Borbon gr0unds out for the final out of the inning. The Rangers are still down 3-4 and it is not looking promising, going into the 9th inning.
The Rangers then brought in closer Frank Francisco in order to keep the game within reach and give the Rangers the opportunity to tie it or even win it in the bottom of the ninth. Francisco got three outs working around a single by Alex Gonzalez to get to the bottom of the ninth.
The Blue Jays then brought in their closer in Jason Frasor. Michael Young then steps up to the plate and doubles on a line drive to center field. Josh Hamilton was then called out on strikes, although the strike zone by home plate umpire was questionable. Then Vladimir Guerrero singles moving Young to third.
At this point it is the bottom of the ninth, one out, men on first and third Rangers down by one. Nelson Cruz steps to the plate and doubles scoring Young and moving Guerrero to third base. Chris Davis is then substituted to run for Guerrero
Now the game is tied at 4-4 with one out, any ball going to the outfield either being caught or not, can give Davis the ability to tag up and score ending the game. So Saltlamacchia digs in and hits a line drive to right center scoring Davis and the Rangers get the first win and walk-off win of the season.
The Rangers are built to compete this year and the optimism is very evident in the sold out crowd today. The front office may have had limited resources to work with this off season, but they upgraded very well. Saltlamacchia stepping up today and the Rangers walking off should happen quite often this season.