After a Dynamic Season Opener, Rangers Fans are Seeing Red

The Rangers' debut was shockingly accessorized by pitching, defense and, don't look now, relevance.

3:16—For the first time in a long time, Millwood pitches like an ace. He's been a flop the last two seasons, going 19-24 with an ERA over 5.00. But now, motivated by an expiring contract and new pitching coach Mike Maddux, he's slimmer and quicker and better. He's getting a standing ovation after pitching 7 innings and allowing only five singles, the Rangers' best Opening Day start since Charlie Hough shut out the Tigers in '89. He throws 113 pitches, which seems like a lot until you recall that Ryan once threw 242 in a 12-inning performance in '74. In this era of specialized set-up men and pitch counts, that is unfathomable.

3:39—Young squeezes a lazy pop, and it's official: Rangers 9, Indians 1. It's Texas' first Opening Day win since '03 and its largest ever lid-lifting blowout. Quick, somebody call Laura Miller and dust off those old Mavericks parade plans.

4:00—Says Washington, "It was a great beginning."

Josh Hamilton began Opening Day by catching the ceremonial pitch from George W. Bush and then went 2-for-5 at bat.
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Josh Hamilton began Opening Day by catching the ceremonial pitch from George W. Bush and then went 2-for-5 at bat.

4:36—Millwood pitched, Saltalamacchia hit, everyone fielded and the Rangers' eighth-largest crowd ever showed up, including Dubya and Jerry Jones. But the most promising event of the day is Andrus. The bubble-blowing kid hasn't yet learned he can sit down in his comfy leather locker chair for post-game interviews. He stands. He smiles. He intoxicates. "I tricked my mind into thinking it was just another game," he says in a sleeveless Nike shirt and 100-watt smile. "It's still baseball, right?" While Maroon Five's "Makes Me Wonder" plays over the clubhouse stereo, you begin to agree: Elvis is No. 1.

5:00—As a kid I feared the Dallas Cowboys' blue jersey jinx. Untouchable at home in white; vulnerable in blue in hostile environments like Philadelphia. So far be it from me to scoff at Rangers fans clamoring for a full-time return to red uniforms. Texas' three division titles in the late '90s were accented in red, and the power color was yanked out of the moth balls for sporadic use this season. Commence the Hunt for Red October?

One down, 161 to go.

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