Rangers off to hot start with the help of veterans, young pitchers

Ian Kinsler attempts a catch against a diving Howie Kendrick (48) during Friday’s opening game in Arlington. (Courtesy of AP)

No opening week has been met with quite the excitement and concern that the Texas Rangers have had. After opening the season with a lackluster loss to the Houston Astros, the team quickly turned the corner and has given the fans what they were hoping for: a solid young group that is still the class of the AL West.

Since that first game of the year, Texas’ starting pitchers, outside of Matt Harrison and his 0-2 record, are showing the type of talent and approach winning teams need to make a postseason appearance.

Club ace, Yu Darvish, has been nothing short of electric in his first two outings this season. Throwing one out away from a perfect game against the Astros, the game was certainly exciting enough, but to go back out with a blister a few nights later against the perceived “Run-away winners of the American League” in the Los Angeles Angels and win in front of a nationally televised audience? The youngster from Japan won the respect of many this past Sunday.

Obviously Darvish has been what many expected him to be, but the re-emergence of starter Alexi Ogando is also a welcome sight for club faithful in the metroplex. The third-year player out of the Dominican Republic has given up just one run in two games, both Rangers victories, to go along with 12 strikeouts.

Even with the outstanding performances by these two young and budding stars, it was the first game of Derek Holland’s that was on everyone’s mind this past Friday.

With the return of Josh Hamilton and the Angels to Arlington, the boo birds were out in full force. Someone must have forgotten to tell the team from Anaheim to get off the bus, because the only dominant figure wasn’t the Angels payroll but the kid nicknamed Dutch.

Holland worked a masterful seven innings of two-run baseball, but the true fun came at former Ranger Hamilton’s expense. Hamilton struck out on four pitches his first time up to bat in another uniform and just like he did so many times as a Ranger, looked ridiculous while doing it.

The former AL MVP went 3-of-13 at the plate during the series and struck out four times to the delight of the hometown, baseball loving crowd.

Some people may disagree with the idea of rejecting a former player who helped their team nearly reach a World Series title, but given the controversial exit of Hamilton, along with signing a lucrative contract with the rival Angels, every person in that ballpark had a right to scream and shout.

With Hamilton’s departure, the door was left wide open for other players to step up and make up for Josh’s lost production. Players such as Ian Kinsler and AJ Pierzynski have shown flashes of what is needed to produce just enough runs to satisfy the offense.

Pierzynski and fellow newcomer Lance Berkman have both been phenomenal at the plate through the first few games, batting .409 and .429 respectively, but it’s their calming presence in the clubhouse that will help this team get to where they hope to be.

Texas still has a long road ahead, as its season will hopefully last into mid-October, but with the early emergence of the pitching rotation and consistency at the plate by the veteran leaders, this team will succeed in ways the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex have come to expect.

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