Reliving Texas Rangers Memories: Rangers Walk Off Win in 2010 Home Opener

Chris Halicke

Tuesday, March 31 was set to be the Texas Rangers home opener at Globe Life Field, the first official game ever played at their new home. Unfortunately, the novel coronavirus pandemic has shutdown the baseball world, postponing all regular season games indefinitely. 

We have good reason to be upset that we won't get to take in a day of firsts at the new, beautiful ballpark. Instead of somberly hanging our heads low, we'll honor Tuesday's postponed home opener, taking a stroll down memory lane to the Rangers walk off win in the 2010 home opener. 

"The optimism leading into the season is as strong as recent memory can provide," said television play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin in the broadcast's pregame. "From Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, to Scott Feldman and Frankie Francisco, the message is this: It's time – time to win, time to go after the West division title and beyond. It's time for Opening Day for the 2010 Texas Rangers!"

The 2010 Opening Day lineup looked like this:

CF Julio Borbon
3B Michael Young
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Vladimir Guerrero
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Chris Davis
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2B Andres Blanco
SS Elvis Andrus

The only projected starter for the Rangers that was missing from the lineup was an injured Ian Kinsler, who opened up the season on the then-named Disabled List. 

The Rangers Opening Day starter in 2010 was Scott Feldman, who won 17 games in 2009 for Texas. He was a key part of that 2009 team that won 87 games, breaking a streak of four-straight losing seasons. The 87-win season with the core the Rangers had in place gave a lot of people optimism for the 2010 Rangers. 

Feldman did not get off to the start he wanted. After two quick outs in the first inning, Adam Lind hit a hard grounder past Blanco at second base, followed by a two-run home run by Arlington-native Vernon Wells. Feldman retired six straight after the Wells home run, but surrendered a solo home run to Adam Lind in the top of the third inning. 

Feldman was able to settle down for the next four innings, facing the minimum and only allowing one base hit, which was erased by a 4-6-3 double play in the sixth inning. Feldman went seven innings, allowing five hits, three runs, no walks, and struck out three batters.

On the Toronto side, starter Shaun Marcum breezed through the Texas batters in the first inning, retiring the side in order. He did however ruin the highly-anticipated first plate appearance of Vladimir Guerrero in a Ranger uniform, hitting him with the first pitch Guerrero saw. 

Despite the hit-by-pitch, Marcum was on pace to have an Opening Day to remember. He no-hit the Rangers for 6 1/3 innings, only allowing two baserunners (Guerrero's HBP and Michael Young reaching base on an error in the fourth inning). 

Trailing 3-0 in the seventh inning, the Rangers finally got to Marcum. As the sun began to break through an overcast sky, Josh Hamilton drew a one-out walk and Vladimir Guerrero followed with a single into right field – his first hit in Rangers red, which also ended Marcum's no-hitter.

"Leave it to the guy with the career .394 batting average in this building to finally solve Shaun Marcum," Josh Lewin announced on the FOX Sports Southwest broadcast.

Nelson Cruz then finally broke the dam, taking a 2-2 pitch from Marcum and drilled it into the Rangers bullpen in right-center field, tying the game 3-3. 

Future American League Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz entered the game in relief in the eighth inning, but suffered some growing pains. He struck out Travis Snider to start the inning, but then walked Jose Bautista and surrendered a one-out double to Aaron Hill. Feliz then intentionally walked Adam Lind to load the bases and face Vernon Wells. 

Wells continued his hot day, driving a hard hit single into left field, scoring the runner from third base while Toronto baserunners went station-to-station, keeping the bases loaded with only one out.

Darren Oliver relieved Feliz, minimizing the damage. Oliver struck out Lyle Overbay looking and got John Buck to fly out to Hamilton in left field. 

The Rangers failed to answer in the eighth inning, as Ryan Garko (pinch-hitting for Andres Blanco), Andrus, and Borbon went down in order. Rangers closer Frank Francisco kept it a 4-3 game in the top of the ninth, pitching a scoreless inning. 

In the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers fought to the end. Jason Frasor (who pitched for the Rangers in 2013) came in to close out the game for Toronto, but Michael Young took the second pitch of the inning from Frasor and patently smoked it into the right-center gap for a double. 

Josh Hamilton followed by striking out looking on a questionable pitch low-and-away. New Ranger Vladimir Guerrero was able to take an 0-2 pitch and reach on an infield single hit up the middle, giving the Rangers runners at first and third with only one out. 

As Vernon Wells hurt the Rangers on this day, Nelson Cruz hurt the Blue Jays more. Cruz shot the first pitch he saw from Frasor down the right field line for a double, scoring Young from third and tying the game 4-4. David Murphy came in to pinch-run for Guerrero at third base. Frasor then intentionally walked Chris Davis to load the bases and set up for the double play. 

Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. After fouling off a couple pitches, Salty made contact with a 2-2 pitch from Frasor...

"Saltalamacchia! BALLGAME! Welcome to 2010!" announced Josh Lewin on the television broadcast.

We can all look back on the 2010 Rangers season with fond memories. Feliz winning Rookie of the Year, Hamilton winning the AL Batting Title and Most Valuable Player, and of course, striking out Alex Rodriguez to beat the Yankees for the American League pennant. 

This hungry Rangers team set the tone to a season with championship aspirations with this walk-off win. Don't let Tuesday's lack of baseball get you down. Remember these great times from the Rangers' past. 

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