ARLINGTON The day began with tears. Then came the jeers.And though it was just a baseball game, the first of 81 at Rangers Ballpark, Fridays home opener seemed to quickly lapse into something manifestly personal.Maybe you booed when you saw Josh Hamilton. Maybe, like many, you choked away tears when you saw Newtown victim Emilie Parkers dad, Robbie, throw out the emotional first pitch.To everything, though, there is a season and in baseball, a season opener. For the Texas Rangers, Fridays home opener was the time to forget about the dismaying end to the 2012 season. And the time to welcome back Pudge. And George W. And Nolan, the CEO.I was getting tired of hearing about Josh, confessed one of the heroes of the Rangers 3-2 victory, starting pitcher Derek Holland.By the time Ian Kinsler stroked his game-deciding single in the eighth inning to beat the Angels, Hollands weariness over the Hamilton homecoming was being broadly shared.He was a great player for us, Holland said. Theres no doubt about it. He can carry a team by himself.But hes not with us anymore.Time to move on, Holland was trying to say, and he was right. To rain boos on ex-Ranger Hamilton was to dwell upon last seasons collapse.Instead, Fridays story became Holland seven innings of pitching with only six hits allowed and two runs and also relievers Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan, who nailed the victorys door shut.Fresh from back-to-back shutouts to end the series in Houston, the three Rangers pitchers held a much more potent and immensely better paid Angels lineup to six hits. Hamilton got none of them. Nor did Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo.Hollands start was marked by his poise. He walked only one and allowed Angels runners to get into scoring position in only two of his seven innings.Guys were making plays behind me, Holland modestly tried to argue.Maybe, but the Rangers starting pitchers seemed to find their stride late in spring training, and the trend has impressively continued during this opening week.Like Ive been preaching all the time, its a matter of being consistent, Holland said. I think this is going to be a huge year for me. I feel strong. If I keep doing what I did today, giving us a chance to win, its going to be a great season.The home opener crowd of 48,845 arrived ready to give Hamilton a deserving earful. But before the game even started, Robbie Parker had them wiping away tears. After throwing the ceremonial first pitch, his emotions overtook him as Pudge Rodriguez came out to hug him.Parker and his late daughter had shared a love of baseball and the Rangers. Her favorite player was outfielder David Murphy, who joined the Parker family on the field before the game.I have three kids of my own, and I cant imagine what they have gone through, Murphy said later. It was hard for me to hold it together out there.As the game began, the jeers that accompanied every Hamilton at-bat eventually gave way to cheers, as Scheppers and Nathan preserved the victory.Scheppers pitched a perfect eighth inning that included retiring last years rookie of the year, Mike Trout, on a ground ball back to the mound.A lot of the credit has to go to Derek, said Kinsler, who drove in the winning run. If he doesnt keep us in the game and give the offense a chance to work, we dont get to talk to you like this after the game.A lot of credit needs to be given to all our pitchers.Poise and pitching, indeed, had helped the Rangers ring in the new home season.It was emotional. It was personal.And now its time to move on.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton