Texas Rangers

One game. One opening loss. No shortage of knee-jerking after Rangers fall to Astros

Elvis Andrus will have a bobblehead in his honor available for fans on Saturday against Toronto.
Elvis Andrus will have a bobblehead in his honor available for fans on Saturday against Toronto. rmallison@star-telegram.com

When the game was over Thursday, and and commissioner Rob Manfred and President Bush and all the media that won't be back again this season were headed home, it was just one game.

Underneath the pomp and circumstance, and all the feel-good that baseball has returned once again and that hope springs eternal, all Opening Day is is one game.

But because of all the things that make a season-opener great, there is more knee-jerking than an early-season game deserves. After the Houston Astros' 4-1 victory, there was plenty of knee-jerking over the Texas Rangers.

It might have sounded something like this:

Cole Hamels didn't pitch like an ace.

Why can't Joey Gallo put down a simple bunt?

Such is life for the losing team on Opening Day.

"I knew we weren't going to win 162," manager Jeff Banister said. "There are 162 individual events. They are single games. We want to win as many as those as we possibly can. We want to win the opener to get that excitement, to build that excitement.

"However, it's not an indicator, in my opinion, of what's going to happen or what will happen. We look at it as a single game and move on. Guess what? We get to play again tomorrow."

Hamels allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings, and Gallo went hitless in four at-bats in the face of the Astros' innovative four-outfielder alignment against him.

Hamels wasn't bad overall against one of the best offense's in baseball, and Gallo wasn't either against one of the best starting pitchers of the past 25 years.

More was made postgame of Gallo's performance, or lack thereof. The Astros moved third baseman Alex Bregman to left field and pushed the other three outfielders to over the gaps and the right-field line.

Gallo flied out in his first two at-bats, the first caught by Bregman in left field, and in his last as his moon shot landed in George Springer's glove at the base of the right-field wall.

Gallo isn't blind. He saw Bregman go into the outfield, but he also didn't want the Astros to take away what he does best.

"I didn't really think too much of it," Gallo said. "I thought about trying to get one in my first at-bat. It was a pitch outside, but we'll see. I can't try to make my adjustments to it, but I just went up there and tried to have my at-bats.

"I want to go up there and do damage and take my A swing. I felt like I swung the bat well today. I just missed a couple balls. I'll try to make my adjustments to it, but they can't change too too much. You have to go up there and still be yourself."

Banister said that he would talk to Gallo about potentially dropping a bunt if the situation dictates it. The Rangers could have used base runners against Justin Verlander, who worked six scoreless innings.

But the rest of the offense didn't get going against Verlander. The first two batters reached in the second before Shin-Soo Choo bounced into a double play to kill a potential rally.

The Rangers' only run came with two outs in the ninth, when Elvis Andrus, who led off with a double, came home on a wild pitch.

"I thought our approach was OK," Banister said. "We kind of hurt ourselves a little bit."

Hamels knows he can be better. He struggled initially with the mound and ended up walking four batters as he struggled with his fastball command. Springer hit the third pitch of the game for a homer to become the first player in MLB history to hit a leadoff homer on consecutive Opening Days.

But Hamels also struck out seven, partly due to being effectively wild and partly due to his off-speed pitches being sharper than in past openers.

The left-hander didn't make any excuses, as is often the case. He simply said he needs to be better after his performance, which wasn't all that bad.

On Opening Day, though, all the knee-jerkers out there might disagree.

"We're 0-1. One game. Damn. We're in last place," Hamels said, jokingly. "I've played on a ton of teams and we've won our division numerous times and we started 0-1. You don't want to get too deep behind. They do have a good team, and we're going to have to battle them and I'm going to have to pitch better. But that's the name of the game."

Astros 4, Rangers 1

Houston

101

100

010

4

Texas

000

000

001

1

Houston<QM>ab

r

h

bi

Texas<QM>ab

r

h

bi

Sprnger rf

4

1

1

1

DShelds cf

4

0

0

0

Bregman 3b

3

0

1

0

Gallo 1b

4

0

0

0

Altuve 2b

2

1

0

1

Andrus ss

3

1

2

0

Correa ss

3

0

1

1

Beltre 3b

4

0

2

0

Ma.Gnza 1b

3

0

1

0

Mazara rf

3

0

0

0

Reddick lf

4

0

0

0

Choo dh

4

0

1

0

Gattis dh

3

0

0

0

R.Chrns c

4

0

0

0

Mrsnick cf

4

1

1

1

Odor 2b

2

0

1

0

B.McCnn c

4

1

1

0

Rua lf

3

0

0

0

DP—Houston 1, Texas 2. LOB—Houston 6, Texas 6. 2B—Bregman, Correa, Andrus. HR—Springer, Marisnick. SF—Altuve.

Houston

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Verlander W,1-0

6

4

0

0

2

5

Devenski H,1

1

0

0

0

0

2

Peacock

1

0

0

0

0

1

Giles

1

2

1

1

0

1

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Hamels L,0-1

5<AF>2/3

5

3

3

4

7

Leclerc

<AF>1/3

0

0

0

0

1

Martin

1

0

0

0

0

2

Bush

1

1

1

1

2

2

Jepsen

1

0

0

0

0

1

WP—Verlander 1 HBP—by Verlander (Mazara). WP—Giles. Umpires—Home, Jerry Meals; First, Ron Kulpa; Second, Ed Hickox; Third, Gabe Morales. T—2:59. A—47,253 (48,114).

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