ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Five years ago, Richard Hidalgo was the talk of baseball during his breakout season with the Houston Astros. He hasn’t come close to matching those offensive numbers since, and now he’s hoping for a fresh start with the Texas Rangers.
Hidalgo helped lead Houston to three division titles and set career highs in 2000 with 44 homers, 122 RBIs and a .314 average. Since then, the injury-prone right fielder has failed to reach 30 homers or 90 RBIs.
“Every year isn’t going to be the same. I’ve just got it in my mind to work hard every year and do my best every year,” said Hidalgo, who hit 25 homers and knocked in 82 runs with the Astros and New York Mets last season.
“I had a lot of injuries with my legs, and I was frustrated. But that’s all in the past,” he said. “This is a new year, and I’m just happy to be here with this team.”
Hidalgo’s first American League homer came one pitch after Gold Glove first baseman Darin Erstad threw wide of shortstop Orlando Cabrera on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder in the hole by Mark Teixeira.
Lead runner Michael Young was tagged out by Cabrera after oversliding second base, but Hidalgo drove reliever Brendan Donnelly’s next pitch over the short fence in the left-field corner for a 2-1 lead.
“It comes down to who makes more quality pitches, and tonight they did,” Donnelly said. “I threw Hidalgo a slider and it didn’t go away. It went down instead of out, which is what I was trying to do, and that’s my fault. Hidalgo did a good job of dropping the head of the bat on it and putting it out of the ballpark.”
Soriano, who last year set a Rangers record for home runs in a season by a second baseman, homered on a 1-1 pitch from Bret Prinz (0-1)—taking it the other way over the short fence in right.
“It was a fastball away. I got it away, but I left it up a little bit in the zone. He got the barrel on it and it just stayed inside the pole,” said Prinz who joined the Angels last week in a trade with the Yankees. “It’s not exactly what I was looking for in my Angels debut. I’ve been given an opportunity here, and I’d better start doing better than I did tonight.”
Brian Shouse (1-0), the seventh Texas pitcher, went 1 1-3 innings for the victory.
Rogers, who pitched a perfect game against the Angels in 1994 at Arlington, won a career-high 18 games last season. His next start will make him the first pitcher to start and appear in 500 games with the Rangers.
Angels starter Jarrod Washburn allowed seven hits over six scoreless innings without walking a batter. He struck out five.
Washburn also had a career-high 18 wins in 2002, when he won 12 straight decisions and helped the Angels win their only World Series title. But he was 21-23 with a 4.52 ERA in 57 starts over the last two seasons and spent 5 1/2 weeks on the disabled list with inflamed cartilage in his left rib cage.
“His stuff looks good, but maintaining it is going to be important for Wash,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “His makeup is going to make him compete no matter what his stuff is like. But if he can maintain the arm speed that he needs, and his body cooperates for the whole year, he’s going to be putting up numbers like you saw a couple of years ago.”
Guerrero was presented with his 2004 MVP plaque and Silver Slugger Award at home plate before the game. Erstad received his third Gold Glove— which made him the first player in history to earn the award as an infielder and an outfielder. … Washburn’s .578 career winning percentage entering this season (67-49) was second-best in Angels’ history behind Bert Blyleven’s .579 mark. … The Rangers this season are wearing a black patch on the right sleeve with No. 26 in memory of former manager Johnny Oates, who died in late December after a lengthy bout with cancer.