G1: Rangers beat ChiSox in season opener, 10-4

Ah yes. Opening day. With it brings kids and gloves, hot dogs and beer, balloons & jet plane flyovers, big deal first pitches & lots of goodwill, shivering fans and 25-30 mph winds?!?! That’s right – it was a rather cold opening day in Arlington. The place was packed, the lineups were introduced, and former president George Bush threw out the first pitch (high and outside to Pudge). Everything seemed set, but unfortunately, the wind was insanely bad today. The game was really cold, the temperature said it was 59, but it felt more like 40. By the end of the game, my wife was sitting with her jacket all buttoned up, and her legs and hands underneath a towel we happened to have in the trunk of the car for extra warmth.
However, it was a wonderful game. During the player introductions, virtually every player (except possibly Tom Evans – who is a virtual unknown to the average D/FW baseball fan) got a huge ovation – the largest seemed to go to Johnny Oates, Pudge, Raffy, & Gabe Kapler. And that was before Kapler even did anything! Kenny Rogers took the hill at the Ballpark, and pitched an excellent game. He went 8 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks, & one earned run (for an era of 1.12). He never seemed totally dominating, but Kenny was Kenny, making two or three great fielding plays, getting four inning ending double plays, and generally making the fans feel good about the pitcher. Our pitching in the ninth inning wasn’t so great, though. Tim Crabtree came in, and gave up three hits, loading the bases. All three of those guys scored in the inning (although Munoz & Zimmerman followed him) – all three were earned. However, that seemed lost in an otherwise great pitching day.
The other side of the coin.. Wow.. Not much happened through the first inning, and the first two batters of the second. However, Gabe Kapler stepped up to the plate, and just whacked the first pitch he saw over the fence for a solo home run, giving us a 1-0 lead. When the inning was over, the fans out in right field gave him a rather nice ovation, to which Gabe waved back at. We gave the lead back in the top of the 3rd, but in the bottom of the third, Luis Alicea singled, followed by an error allowing Clayton to get on. Rusty struck out, but Pudge followed and smacked a three run shot off the left field foul pole giving us a 4-1 lead, which we never surrendered. Gabe Kapler came up again in the 4th to much applause, and again hit the first pitch he saw out over the left field wall for his second home run – the first Ranger ever to hit two home runs in his first two Ranger at bats. This second home run prompted many calls of “Juan Who?” from Section 332 (most of which were coming from me, followed by laughter from others). Gabe got an even louder ovation from the right field porch after this inning, and when he came up again in the 5th, he got a stadium wide standing O, to which he followed with an RBI single. He came around to score in a very Pete Rose fashion in the inning, plowing through the catcher, making him drop the ball, and having to run back to the plate to score. Couple this with two really awesome (and I mean AWESOME) throws from right field to keep runners from advancing really made this feel like Gabe Kapler’s day, even though Pudge had 5 RBI’s, and two homers, this day just felt like Gabe’s in Section 332 – or at least for me.
Of course, one game does not a season make, but damn.. If this is any indication of what is possible from these guys, this season ought to be fun. Might debunk just about every national sports coverage who picks the Rangers third or last!
My wife’s nickname for Gabe Kapler – “Gabe the Babe”.