Not everything about Opening Day felt off Thursday at Globe Life Park, but enough things weren't quite right.
It didn't just have to do with the lack of buzz from a sellout crowd of 47,253 that watched the Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 4-1, though that was part of it.
The flyover, for instance, came too early. It was well before the National Anthem and during a moment of silence in remembrance of former Rangers employees Norm Lyons and Anna King and former MLB star Rusty Staub, who played for the Astros and Rangers.
President Bush was in attendance, which isn't unusual, but he had departed by the time the brand-new giant-headed George W. Bush Texas Legends racer debuted. Even the person running the race as W stopped at the president's seats and wondered what the heck was going on.
Then, to make matters worse, giant-headed Jim Bowie did a face plant.
There was bunting on the center-field railing and not enough bunting on the field.
Here's some Rangers Reaction from Game 1 of 162.
1. Joey Gallo's job is to hit home runs. But he also has a knack for getting on base.
Therein lies one of the problems in the Rangers' loss. They were trailing throughout and needed runs. They were trailing throughout and needed base runners.
And the Astros were leaving the entire left side of the infield vacant, shifting Alex Bregman from third base to left field and shortstop Carlos Correa up the middle each time Gallo batted.
So, what do the Rangers want Gallo to do most: Drop a bunt and get on base or stick with his normal approach and see what happens?
Manager Jeff Banister and Gallo were going to talk about it, with game situations likely at the center of the conversation.
But with all the bunt talk come a couple points:
▪ Gallo isn't an experienced bunter, and bunting isn't as easy as everyone thinks.
▪ Having Gallo bunt plays into the Astros' hands.
Gallo would have to bunt the ball hard enough to get it past the pitcher and to make sure the catcher can't get it, and he has to make sure it stays fair and that he doesn't get any fingers broken.
There are certain pitchers, like Astros starter Justin Verlander, who make bunting especially difficult.
"I'm sure I'll try to lay one down here and there, but it's not like I've been a master bunter all my life," Gallo said. "Everyone sees the left side of the infield and says, 'Just bunt it. Just bunt it.' It's not that simple."
And when he does bunt, the Astros have taken away all that power and the swing the Rangers want Gallo to have against all the teams that won't play four outfielders.
Gallo said that he put his best swing on an outside fastball in his first at-bat in an attempt to hit the ball to left field. He succeeded. He just hit the ball in the air.
But he was trying to hit the best pitch in his next three at-bats.
"It's just how it went," Gallo said. "I go up there and still try to do what I do. I know if I hit the ball hard and hit it well, they're not going to be able to catch it anyway."
2. Cole Hamels wasn't bad in his season debut, though it looked like he was in for a long day after his third pitch of the season left the yard.
If anything, the seven strikeouts Hamels would post in 5 2/3 innings suggest that his stuff was better than it hasn't been in base openers throughout his career, and that was a goal of his in spring training.
He just wasn't good enough against an offense that can punish left-handed pitching and fastballs. The problem was a familiar one for him since jumping leagues — falling behind hitters.
Hamels had four walks in his ledger, three in the third, and the George Springer homer to start the season and the Alex Bregman double that followed came on 2-0 and 1-0 pitches. Those two hits and Jake Marisnick's two-out homer in the fourth came on fastballs.
The third inning was just sloppy, and Hamels was fortunate that the Astros couldn't get more than one run. It started with Brian McCann reaching on an infield hit after Hamels collided with first baseman Joey Gallo.
That was followed by walk, walk, sacrifice fly, walk and an inning-ending double play on arguably Hamels' biggest pitch of the game.
He kept the Rangers in the game. He gave them a chance. That's the minimum requirement of a starting pitcher.
Hamels, though, expects better, and so do fans who view him as the Rangers' best pitcher. Well, he is, and he will be throughout the season.
He just wasn't good enough in Game 1.
3. Who says spring stats don't matter? Just about everyone, actually.
But if one game is any indication, some stats could be telling for a couple key Rangers.
First up is Robinson Chirinos, who had his best offensive season in 2017 but followed it up with a .219 spring average and 15 strikeouts in 32 at-bats. His was so out of sorts that he spent a day taking at-bats in two minor-league games.
Chirinos batted four times Thursday and struck out all four times.
Matt Bush didn't have the best spring either after being taken out of the hunt for a rotation spot. He was all for the decision, saying the bullpen is where he belongs after giving starting a try, but his transition back to a relief role wasn't seamless.
He gave up nine runs in his first three appearances before striking on a mechanical fix, but gave up a run in the eighth inning Thursday. Jose Altuve took a one-out walk and scored as Correa followed with a double. Bush then walked Marwin Gonzalez before getting out of the inning.
On the plus side, Kevin Jepsen's 1-2-3 ninth inning looked a lot like his splendid Catcus League work. So did Elvis Andrus' two-hit game.
It is one game. Former manager Ron Washington always said that it took 100 at-bats for a hitter to find his rhythm. Spring training is for pitchers to get ramped up, and sometimes it takes a few extra outings.
Is it too early to worry about Chirinos and Bush or declare Jepsen the Comeback Player of the Year and start writing those Andrus opt-out stories? Yeah. But the Game 1 results were a continuation of their springs.