Rangers Start Season Off on Right Foot

Rangers no-hit into 7th, rally to beat Blue Jays

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Right fielder Nelson Cruz reacts to a post-game cream pie in his face after the Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Opening Day.

    There was all the pomp and pageantry, the energy of a sold-out crowd and the expectations fueled by team president Nolan Ryan's repeated insistence that the Texas Rangers should win at least 92 games this year.

    Yet, the Rangers went into the seventh inning on opening day against Shaun Marcum and the Toronto Blue Jays still without a hit.

    Thanks to two big hits from Nelson Cruz and a two-run rally in the ninth, though, Texas has taken the first step toward Ryan's goal after a 5-4 victory Monday.

    "We showed out character out there," manager Ron Washington said. "We got no-hit for six, got our first hit in the seventh, but they played nine innings. ... They never quit. I tell you what, that clubhouse is something special."

    Texas, which won 87 games last season, scored twice in the ninth off Blue Jays closer Jason Frasor.

    "What a way to start the season," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "We start with almost a no-hitter and it leads to a loss."

    Michael Young, the longest-tenured Texas player in his 10th season, had a leadoff double before Josh Hamilton took a called third strike. Vladimir Guerrero then had an infield single, though second baseman Aaron Hill made a diving stab deep behind the base to prevent the tying run then.

    "We just had to get something going," Young said. "We're just thinking about tying it up, not thinking about getting two."

    Nelson Cruz then hit an RBI double down the right-field line that tied the game before Chris Davis was intentionally walked to load the bases. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's flyball to right-center was well out of reach for the drawn-in outfield for a game-winning single.

    "It was an unbelievable feeling. I've never done that before," said Saltalamacchia, the catcher who will platoon with Taylor Teagarden to start the season.

    Marcum missed last season recovering from elbow surgery. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until Guerrero's one-out single in the seventh, after walking Hamilton. Cruz, who hit 33 home runs last season, followed with a three-run homer that tied the game at 3.

    Marcum struck out six and walked one as the first Blue Jays pitcher since 2002 other than Roy Halladay to start the season opener. Halladay, a six-time All-Star who won an American League Cy Young Award in his 12 seasons with Toronto, was traded to Philadelphia over the winter.

    The back-to-back hits in the seventh were the only ones allowed by Marcum. Scott Down took over with a perfect eighth.

    "I never expected that. But you never expect a no-hitter. All in all I felt good," Marcum said. "The home run he hit was a good pitch. Give him credit for getting wood on it and getting it up in that jet stream."

    Cruz reached out and poked the ball the opposite way, sending it nearly 400 feet from home plate to the Rangers bullpen in right-center field.

    Frank Francisco (1-0), the fourth Texas pitcher, struck out two in the ninth.

    In what was a sort of home opener for him, Vernon Wells had three hits. He had a two-run homer in the first and an RBI single in the eighth to give Toronto a 4-3 lead. Wells, the longest-tenured Blue Jays player beginning his 12th season, grew up in Arlington and still lives in the area.

    Wells' go-ahead hit in the eighth came on a 98-mph pitch thrown by Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz, the 21-year-old fireballer who remained a setup reliever after being given a chance this spring to be in the rotation.

    "We have nothing to be ashamed about. We played a good game," Gaston said. "We got Marcum about where we wanted. ... We were pulling hard for him to come out of it with a win."

    Scott Feldman, who started last season as a long reliever before moving into the Rangers rotation and winning 17 games, gave up three runs on a pair of home runs. The 27-year-old right-hander struck out three and without a walk, three days after getting a new contract through 2012 worth nearly $14 million that adds a team option for 2013.

    Adam Lind hit a solo homer and was 3 for 3 with two runs scored for Toronto. He had a two-out single before Wells' homer in the first, then was intentionally walked to load the bases in the eighth before Wells singled.

    Lind, the 26-year-old designated hitter who hit .305 last season with 35 home runs and 114 RBIs, has a new $18 million, four-year contract that includes three additional club-option years.

    "He proved what he could do last year," Wells said. "I'll have quite a few chances to drive in some runs with those guys ahead of me."

    NOTES: Chuck Greenberg, head of the investment group buying the Texas Rangers from Tom Hicks, sat in the owner's front-row seats near the Rangers dugout. Hicks sat next to him for some of the game. ... The announced crowd was 50,299. ... Marcum also took a no-hitter into the seventh in August 2007 before giving up a two-out hit against Kansas City. ... Andres Blanco started at second base for Texas with Ian Kinsler on the DL. Blanco had an error in the first inning. Kinsler, recovering from a high right ankle sprain sustained March 12 during drills, described it as frustrating to have to miss the season opener. He hopes to play rehab games at Double-A Frisco later this week.