Texas Rallies For 9-5 Win Over Boston
David Murphy ran to first base looking out toward the left-field corner and expecting the ball to drop in foul territory. Except his slicing liner kicked up chalk for the Texas Rangers.
Like so many times while winning their first American League championship a year ago, the Rangers pulled off an exhilarating comeback.
"There isn't anything changed with those guys," manager Ron Washington said after a 9-5 win Friday over the Boston Red Sox in the season opener.
Pinch-hitter Murphy's tiebreaking, two-run double off hard-throwing Daniel Bard was part of a four-run outburst in the eighth for Texas, which before the game raised the AL championship flag.
"My body language brought it back in. I was praying the ball would hit the chalk, and it did," Washington said. "When it hit the chalk, I lost it."
Rangers newcomers Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba ran home to break a 5-all tie. Murphy scored on a double by Elvis Andrus before another double by AL MVP Josh Hamilton.
Napoli, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz all homered for the Rangers, whose opener came exactly five months after a Game 5 loss to San Francisco at home ended its first World Series.
The reloaded Red Sox, who added All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford after missing the playoffs last season, blew leads of 2-0 and 4-2.
"Every loss is frustrating. We've got 161 to go," Kevin Youkilis said. "We know we're better than we played today. There's going to be a lot of games like that this year, but hopefully not too many in a row."
Murphy pinch-hit for No. 9 batter Julio Borbon, the center fielder whose two-base error on the first play of the game led to the Red Sox scoring a pair of unearned runs. Borbon remained a starter even after five errors in 21 spring training games, a move that allows the Rangers to play Hamilton in left but relegates Murphy to the bench.
"I do it for my teammates. I love my teammates," said Murphy, who started 105 games last season. "Would I like to be included more? Yes. But if I continue to hit, I don't think I should have a problem."
Bard said he made the exact pitch he wanted to Murphy.
"Sinker down and away. It was on the knees, outer black," Bard said. "He just barely got the bat to it. Three inches to the left and that's a foul ball, and we're having a different conversation."
Darren Oliver, the third Texas reliever, got the victory even after allowing a homer to David Ortiz in the top of the eighth that tied it at 5.
Gonzalez had two hits and drove in three runs in his Boston debut. Crawford went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts while leaving a runner in scoring position each at-bat.
Napoli pulled a pitch down the left-field line in the fourth for a three-run shot off left-hander Jon Lester, putting Texas up 5-4 and sending the sellout crowd of 50,146 into a frenzy.
"When you're making your debut, that's what you want to do," said Napoli, who walked in the eighth before Torrealba singled. "I did my part today to help us win. It's a good start."
Napoli played the last five seasons with the AL West rival Angels, though he was traded in January to Toronto, which four days later sent him to the Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.
Kinsler returned to the top of the Texas order where he primarily hit in 2009 and started the season with a homer to make it 2-1. That extended his team record with his 14th career leadoff homer.
An inning later, Cruz hit a towering fly that dropped just behind the 14-foot wall in left.
C.J. Wilson, who won a Rangers-best 15 games last year when he made the transition from the bullpen to the rotation, struck out six with two walks in 5 2-3 innings. The crafty left-hander gave up four runs.
Lester gave up five runs over 5 1-3 innings. It was the first time in 125 career games he allowed three homers, and only the second time the lefty didn't have a strikeout.
Gonzalez broke the 2-all tie in the third with a two-out, two-run single.
Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, who finished with two hits and scored twice, opened the game with a fly to right-center. Borbon knocked the ball away from right fielder Cruz as he was about to make the catch.
"It was a very aggressive play on Borbon's part. Cruz was camped," Washington said. "It didn't bother us. We gathered ourselves and kept playing baseball."
Ellsbury scored on a two-out double by Youkilis, and Gonzalez drove in a run in his first Red Sox at-bat before being thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Gonzalez, whose major league debut came with Texas in 2004, was a three-time All-Star in San Diego before being traded this winter to Boston. Crawford spent his first nine major league seasons with Tampa Bay.
Crawford, who hit third, had a weak infield popout in the first. He struck out in the third, fifth and seventh.
"That was a tough day. Wilson carved him up pretty good," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "There will be a lot better days. Hopefully it'll start tomorrow."
This program aired on April 2, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.