ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- While the Angels have a ponderous new
name, Vladimir Guerrero seems unchanged.
Before the first inning ended Tuesday night in the Angels' 3-2
season-opening victory over Texas, fans already were chanting
"MVP, MVP," for the slugger who won the honor last year.
Guerrero hit a solo homer in the first inning and added an RBI
double in the sixth to lead his team, formerly the Anaheim Angels,
now the Los Angeles Angels -- or officially, the Los Angeles Angels
Bengie Molina singled home a run in the seventh to cap the
Angels' scoring. Bartolo Colon held the Rangers to one run in 6 2-3
innings, and new closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth
for the save.
Guerrero is coming off a season when he hit .337, with 39 homers
and 126 RBI in his first year with the Angels.
Asked if Guerrero can get much better, manager Mike Scioscia
smiled, shook his head and said, "If he does, we'll have to find a
new league for him."
Texas manager Buck Showalter said: "He's the MVP for a reason.
He's not picking on us, he's picking on everybody. With the range
he has with his bat, it's hard to get him out."
Guerrero said through a translator, "One game it will be me,
another game, it will be someone else. We have many players on this
team who can do it."
The game was the Angels' first with Los Angeles in front of
their name since the 1965 season, when they changed it to the
California Angels. They moved to Anaheim in 1966, then took the
city's name in 1997.
Team owner Arte Moreno changed the name from Anaheim Angels to
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the offseason, drawing the ire
of city officials both in Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Anaheim officials still are fighting the name change in court.
Rodriguez, taking over for club career saves leader Troy
Percival, in quick order struck out Rod Barajas on three pitches,
got Alfonso Soriano on a fly to right, and Hank Blalock on a
grounder to first.
"I'm mentally prepared to be the closer," said the 23-year-old
Rodriguez. "I wanted to stay ahead in the count and keep the crowd
in it, and I was able to do that."
Percival was let go during the offseason and signed with
Guerrero, who seems to have the ability to hit pitches over the
fence regardless of where they're thrown, sent Ryan Drese's
shoulder-high fastball in the first inning slicing over the
370-foot sign in right-center.
After Teixeira tied it with his RBI single, Guerrero put the
Angels back in front with his double to the wall in left-center,
scoring Jeff DaVanon.
DaVanon's two-out single ended a stretch of 15 consecutive
batters retired by Drese.
Molina's RBI single off Drese came after Robb Quinlan doubled
with two out.
Colon gave up a two-out single in the seventh inning on his
108th pitch of the game, and Shields replaced him to end the
Colon gave up six hits, struck out five and walked four.
Drese, who turned 29 Tuesday, gave up three runs on six hits and
a walk over his seven innings.
Brent Downing, a U.S. Marine who recently returned from
duty in Iraq, threw the ceremonial first pitch. His father, former
Angels slugger Brian Downing, was behind the plate to catch the
pitch -- a strike. ... Manager Mike Scioscia said it made the opener
extra special to be able to raise the AL West championship flag,
"although that was not the flag we hoped to be raising." Boston
eliminated the Angels in the first round of the playoffs last year.
... The Rangers have opened the last five seasons on the road,
including starting the 2001 campaign in Puerto Rico. They're 1-4
over that stretch.