Dazzling Dozen: Opening Day walkoff

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
8:00
AM CT

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Before we completely move on from the 2010 season, let's take a look back at 12 memorable moments from the best season in franchise history. They all won't be games. And since we're limited to 12, we're going to leave some worthy candidates out. So each day we'll note a memorable moment as part of our "Dazzling Dozen."

No. 12: Jarrod Saltalamacchia's Opening Day walk-off

For six innings of the Opening Day game against Toronto, the Rangers' bats couldn't do anything against starter Shaun Marcum. Nothing. They had no hits. But Marcum walked Josh Hamilton, gave up a single to Vladimir Guerrero and then watched as Nelson Cruz's opposite-field homer sailed over the fence at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to tie the score at 3. The Blue Jays regained the lead in the eighth and the Rangers were down 4-3 headed to the ninth.

Rangers
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireThe Rangers mobbed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia after his RBI single capped a two-run rally in the ninth to beat the Blue Jays on Opening Day.
With closer Jason Frasor on the mound, Michael Young hit a leadoff double. He scored to tie the game on an RBI double down the right-field line by Cruz. The Blue Jays intentionally walked Chris Davis to load the bases to get to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The young catcher hit a single to right-center over the Blue Jays outfield playing shallow to win the game for the Rangers, 5-4. A sellout crowd went nuts and the Rangers started the season with a dramatic victory.

"They played nine innings," manager Ron Washington said of his Rangers that day. "They never quit. I tell you what, that clubhouse is something special."

In a season full of great moments, I put this in my dozen for several reasons:

* The win showed this team's comeback ability, something they displayed all season. They didn't have a hit through six innings yet found a way to get things together and win. They played hard all season for manager Ron Washington and rarely did you get the sense they were out of a game.

* Texas' Opening Day heroes included several players that did not end up on the postseason roster. Starter Scott Feldman never did get his sinker sinking on a regular basis and was out of the rotation in the second half. Saltalamacchia was put on the DL days after his walkoff hit and was in the minors trying to figure out how to beat the yips. Davis started the season as the first baseman, but was in the minors by the end of the month and replaced by Justin Smoak. Mitch Moreland, who was in the minors to start 2010, ended up becoming the first baseman in the postseason (along with Jorge Cantu in the ALDS).

* It also signaled that Cruz was ready to produce yet another solid season. He battled hamstring injuries but was an important power bat in the lineup in 2010 and became one of the club's top clutch hitters. He was clutch on Opening Day.

How many of you were at that Opening Day game? What do you remember most about it?
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.323 15 58 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 15
RBIA. Beltre 58
RA. Beltre 57
OPSA. Beltre .883
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 2.90
SOY. Darvish 167