Rangers 2, Red Sox 0
“Sometimes you don’t have swing hard to get a hit,” Sosa said.
Or even swing at all like Sosa in the 38-year-old slugger’s first home game for Texas since his rookie season in 1989.
Sosa was actually trying to check his swing and was pulling his bat back when he made contact in his first at-bat. The ball blooped into short right for an RBI single and the Rangers went on to a 2-0 victory over Boston in their home opener Friday.
“It was perfect,” Sosa said smiling, admitting that he initially didn’t realize that he had even hit the ball.
“We finally caught a break right there,” rookie manager Ron Washington said.
After being swept in a season-opening three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels, when they never even led, the Rangers finally gave Washington his first victory even though they had only three singles.
Robinson Tejeda (1-0) allowed two hits, one of them an infield single, over seven shutout innings. After trying to field a ball barehanded in the sixth and then walking a batter, the No. 4 starter got out of that inning when Red Sox sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez had consecutive flyouts.
The Rangers scored runs in the first two innings off knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (0-1), who gave up three hits over six innings. Texas had given up runs in the first inning each game against Los Angeles.
“It’s one of those days where the guy on the other side pitched really good. After the first two innings, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I felt like I settled down after that,” Wakefield said. “I pitched well, we just didn’t win.”
Instead, it was a feel-good day for the Rangers and Sosa, who after a year out off baseball agreed to a minor league deal and then made the team by hitting .408 with five home runs in 17 spring games.
Sosa, fifth on the career list with 588 homers, is hitting only .200 (2-for-10) with four strikeouts when it counts. But he finally got his first RBI.
“The first couple of games every year, it’s still the same thing, people want get two hits in one at-bat and want to be the hero every day,” Sosa said. “It’s only a couple of games. Come see me in six months when everything is there. You have to believe in yourself, no panic.”
Sosa was having a good time even before the game, cutting up with Ortiz and Ramirez when they were lined up for pregame introductions. Sosa was greeted with mostly cheers when he was introduced as the No. 5 hitter playing right field.
Sosa was 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a routine flyout to center before being replaced in the field by Nelson Cruz in the eighth inning. While Washington has said he expects to use Sosa primarily as a designated hitter, Sosa caught six flyball outs Friday.
Texas went ahead 2-0 in the second after Brad Wilkerson led off by reaching on an error by second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Wilkerson stole second base and scored on Gerald Laird’s single to left, sliding in ahead of Ramirez’s two-hop throw to the plate.
That’s all the Rangers needed to avoid an 0-4 start.
“It’s definitely nice to get the first one out of the way. It doesn’t matter how you win as long as you get one on the board,” Young said. “We come home and everybody was making such a big deal out of three games. It was almost like they were ready to talk about the Cowboys again.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did sit in the field-level box with Rangers owner Tom Hicks. The first pitch was thrown by Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, whose career with the Cowboys ended in 1999—the same year the Rangers went to the playoffs.
Boston never got a runner to third base.
Coco Crisp had a one-out double in the fifth, but was stranded there. Julio Lugo drew a one-out walk in the eighth against reliever Joaquin Benoit and went to second on a groundball before Ortiz grounded out to end the inning.
“They were calling the high strikes today and we were popping them up,” Pedroia said. “We hit some balls well, but not enough to get going.”
Rangers 3B Hank Blalock had homered in four straight home openers before going 0-for-3 on Friday. … Wakefield made his 444th appearance with Red Sox, second most in team history behind Bob Stanley’s 637. His 307 starts are second only to Roger Clemens (382). … It was 55 degrees at game time, the coolest home opener since Rangers Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994. … It was the Rangers’ first shutout in a home opener since April 4, 1989, a 4-0 win over Detroit.