ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the fourth consecutive season, the Rangers are winners on Opening Day, beating the White Sox, 3-2. Unlike the last two openers, they didn't need to do it in their final at-bat. After Chicago had tied the score in the top of the sixth inning, the Rangers immediately got the lead back in the bottom half on an RBI single by Michael Young.
A sellout crowd of 49,085 watched it (note that capacity is about 1,000 fewer seats than last year because of the updated outfield renovations).
What does it mean?: The Rangers won the kind of game they'll need to win consistently in 2012 if they want to return to the World Series. They got an early lead and when the White Sox tied it, they didn't allow Chicago to grab any momentum, getting the go-ahead run right away. Then the bullpen, which had some issues in spring training, got the job done by locking things down. The Rangers scored with sac hits and with a homer. They showed their versatility.
Strikeout record: Colby Lewis had nine strikeouts, which ties for the most on Opening Day in club history. Nolan Ryan had nine strikeouts on April 8, 1991 against the Milwaukee Brewers. The club's 13 strikeouts are a new Opening Day record.
Opening Day power: For the second consecutive season, Ian Kinsler had an Opening Day home run for Texas. He did it leading off the game last year, but saved the long ball for the third Friday. Kinsler hit the second pitch he saw in the first inning down the left field line for a double.
Don't try stealing: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw a bullet to shortstop Elvis Andrus covering the bag to get Alejandro De Aza, who attempted to steal second base with one out in the first. Torrealba worked on his throws this spring and did a nice job in Arizona. It showed on Opening Day.
Versatility shows early: The Rangers were a versatile offense in 2011 and they picked up in the first inning of 2012. Ian Kinsler drilled the second pitch he saw down the left-field line for a double. Elvis Andrus bunted him to third and Josh Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly to center to score him.
Nearly a homer for Murph: David Murphy didn't hit a home run against a left-handed hitter in 107 at-bats in 2011. But he nearly did the trick on Opening Day. Murphy hit a ball over the wall down the right-field line, but it was barely foul. He then struck out and was 1-for-3 against lefty John Danks and White Sox pitching. Murphy will get a chance to play against lefties. He hit just .215 against them in 2011 but performed well against lefties in the spring (10-for-23).
Great pick in CF: Josh Hamilton ran after a ball hit by A.J. Pierzynski that looked as if it might be a double. But Hamilton sprinted over, got close to it and still managed to backhand the ball almost like an infielder on a short hop and keep the hit to a single. That ball would have gotten past most guys.
Lewis bears down with RISP: The Chicago White Sox were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position off Lewis. They had four strikeouts. Lewis was able to use his slider and keep the White Sox off balance.
First pitch: Hamilton had a sac fly and two singles in his first three at-bats. And he saw three total pitches in those at-bats. Hamilton isn't afraid to swing early if he finds a pitch he can hit. He did that Friday.
Late switch: Don't be surprised if you see the Rangers alter their outfield alignment late in games with the lead, depending on who's playing. Washington put Craig Gentry in center and moved Josh Hamilton to left in the top of the eighth inning, putting David Murphy on the bench. That's his best defensive outfield with the game on the line.
Bullpen alignment: Friday was the first time we got to see how the Rangers used their bullpen. Lewis went six innings, giving way to Alexi Ogando for the seventh, Mike Adams for the eighth and Joe Nathan for the ninth. That's the preferred run that the skipper would like to go with this season. Nathan got his first save as a Ranger, protecting the one-run lead in the ninth. He got a strikeout to end the game.
What's next: As difficult as it is to believe, there's 161 more games. So the next one is Saturday against the White Sox and it's Derek Holland's first start of the season. Holland is trying to back up his solid 2011 campaign (16 wins and the dazzling Game 4 performance in the World Series). He'll go up against Jake Peavy.