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Rangers 3, White Sox 2: An inauspicious start

Adam Dunn and Joe McEwing: Your two stars of the game.
Adam Dunn and Joe McEwing: Your two stars of the game.

One of the comforting ideas about baseball is that when a player has a terrible game, he's one day away from erasing it.

Brent Morel probably can't wait for tomorrow. He struck out in every one of his four at-bats and committed an error, but another ball he couldn't handle looms largest.

With nobody out in the sixth inning and Josh Hamilton on first, Adrian Beltre smashed a grounder to third. Had Morel come up with it cleanly, there would have been plenty of time for a 5-4-3 double play. But he could only knock it down, and while he recovered in time to get Beltre at first, it was still one out too little. Michael Young singled on the next pitch, driving in Hamilton, and what turned out to be the decisive run.

It's not fair to call it an error or mistake by Morel, because Beltre smoked the grounder, and it was good work by Morel to keep it playable. He just needed to make a big play in one way or another, and he couldn't make it happen.

Morel wasn't alone in his struggles. Thanks in part to Mike Winters' very wide strike zone, the Sox had trouble putting the ball in play. They struck out 13 times, including five with runners in scoring position (they went 0-for-7 overall). Colby Lewis did a great job of painting the corners early on, which encouraged Winters to expand the zone as the game went along.

It wasn't all bad. Danks still doesn't know how to win, but he looked good over his six innings when he wasn't facing Ian Kinsler. The Texas second basemen led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a bunt and scored on a sac fly to give the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead.

Two innings later, Danks threw Kinsler a hanging changeup, and Kinsler didn't miss it. A solo homer made it 2-0, but aside from his customary Kinsler and sixth-inning problems, he kept the Rangers in check. He struck out six, he didn't walk anybody, and he didn't allow many hard-hit balls, either.

On the other side, Adam Dunn hit his record-tying eighth Opening Day homer, a 431-foot solo shot into the upper deck in right. That put the Sox on the board against Lewis to open up the sixth, and they added another one with some hustle.

Alex Rios reached when a soft curveball got away from Lewis and clipped his helmet. With good speed aboard, Robin Ventura put on the hit-and-run. Alexei Ramirez dropped a soft single into left center, and Rios, whose lack of outfield hustle has been exploited a few times, turned the tables on David Murphy. He busted it into third, and Joe McEwing waved him around as Murphy took his time getting the ball back into the infield. Even with a decent relay, Rios scored standing to tie the game.

Ventura was 1-for-2 with giving his runners the green light. In the first inning, Alejandro De Aza started the game with a single, then was thrown out at second with Dunn at the plate. It was a shame, because Dunn looked ready at the plate all day. He engaged three-true-outcomes mode with a walk and a strikeout, and he smashed a lineout to first.

Bullet points:

  • Morel made a nice diving stab to his left, so he had that going for him.
  • A.J. Pierzynski let a third strike get past him to extend the fourth inning and move a runner to second. It was called a wild pitch, and sure, it was a changeup in the dirt. However, it was right over the center of the plate, and right where Pierzynski was calling for it (he slapped his mitt down on the ground a couple of times). It was just a poor effort. Danks pitched around it with another strikeout.
  • Gordon Beckham struck out three times (including a generous called third strike to end the game), and Ramirez looked lost against Lewis, with two strikeouts and half-swings galore.
  • Danks only threw 78 pitches through six innings.

Record: 0-1 | Box score | Play-by-play