ARLINGTON -- Home openers are supposed to be exciting. They're supposed to mark the changing of seasons from winter to spring, the arrival of hope, and a whole slew of things for fans to cheer about.
This one didn't disappoint.
The Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Friday in a game which was as much about the past as it was the present.
Derek Holland threw seven innings, surrendering a pair of runs on six hits, striking out five and only walking one. Adrian Beltre homered, with AJ Pierzynski and Ian Kinsler driving in the other two runs.
Most of the fanfare before this game centered around the return of Josh Hamilton, the star Rangers outfielder of the last five years who signed a $125 million contract during this offseason. There had been some debate about how he would be received -- but the ultimate response was thoroughly one-sided. Hamilton was loudly booed every time he came up to bat, greeted with cheers every time he created an out, and mocked with a combination of cheers and jeers after a defensive miscue.
The Arlington crowd was clearly not enamored with Josh bolting to a division rival and his perceived lack of effort late last season. They let him know it.
Hamilton struck out in his first two at-bats, looking visibly frustrated on his way back to the dugout. He flew out during the next two, the last of which came in the 9th inning against closer Joe Nathan.
The Rangers started the scoring in the second inning. Nelson Cruz doubled and scored on an AJ Pierzynski triple (Pierzynski was 3-for-4 on the day). The Angels immediately responded, as Chris Ianetta led off the third inning with a home run.
Ianetta struck again in the fifth inning, grounding single up the middle against Holland. Peter Bourjos struck out, but 2012 MVP runner-up Mike Trout doubled him home, putting the Angels on top 2-1.
Rangers hitters reached base 14 times, but generally struggled in converting those baserunners into runs. They stranded baserunners in each of the first seven innings, leaving 11 on base overall.
In the seventh inning, Adrian Beltre worked his way around that problem with a solo home run off Angels reliever Garret Richards, tying the game and taking the decision away from Holland.
Tanner Scheppers came on to relieve Holland in the eighth inning and blew by Bourjos, Trout, and Erick Aybar.
In the bottom of the inning, Craig Gentry reached on a line drive single, then stole second base, despite seemingly everyone in the ballpark being aware he was going for the swipe. Jeff Baker struck out before Ian Kinsler came up to bat, and he didn't disappoint.
Kinsler laced a single to Hamilton in right field, and the play at the plate came down to Hamilton's arm against Gentry's speed. The play was close, but Angels catcher Chris Ianetta couldn't handle the throw. It skidded away and the Rangers took a 3-2 lead.
Joe Nathan came in for the ninth inning. He got Albert Pujols on a deep fly to left, hung a curveball to Hamilton but escaped with a lineout to center, and walked Trumbo, but forced an easy flyball out from Howie Kendrick to end the game.
Manager Ron Washington knows the win wasn't easy, but he's not complaining.
"We're capable of winning many ways," he said. "I don't want anyone to clone us to be a certain type of team. We'll play whatever kind of baseball is played out there that day. If we can get loose offensively, we'll get loose. If we can't get loose offensively, we'll do what we have to do to win a ballgame. And that's what happened today."
Hamilton was clearly frustrated by the fans' reaction, but realizes he can't do anything about it.
"I'm not here for them in general. I'm here to do what I'm supposed to do," Hamilton said. "Doesn't matter what they do. Boo, yell, spit, throw. It's all good."
The win takes Texas to 3-1 on the season and moves the Angels' record to 1-3. This win marks the Rangers' fifth-straight victory in their home opener.