ARLINGTON, Texas — David Murphy ran to first base looking out toward the left-field corner and expecting the ball to drop in foul territory. Except his slicing liner kicked up chalk for the Texas Rangers.
Like so many times while winning their first American League championship a year ago, the Rangers pulled off an exhilarating comeback.
“There isn’t anything changed with those guys,” manager Ron Washington said after a 9-5 win Friday over the Boston Red Sox in the season opener.
Pinch-hitter Murphy’s tiebreaking, two-run double off hard-throwing Daniel Bard was part of a four-run outburst in the eighth for Texas, which before the game raised the AL championship flag.
“My body language brought it back in. I was praying the ball would hit the chalk, and it did,” Washington said. “When it hit the chalk, I lost it.”
Rangers newcomers Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba ran home to break a 5-all tie. Murphy scored on a double by Elvis Andrus before another double by AL MVP Josh Hamilton.
Napoli, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz all homered for the Rangers, whose opener came exactly five months after a Game 5 loss to San Francisco at home ended its first World Series.
The reloaded Red Sox, who added All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford after missing the playoffs last season, blew leads of 2-0 and 4-2.
“Every loss is frustrating. We’ve got 161 to go,” Kevin Youkilis said. “We know we’re better than we played today. There’s going to be a lot of games like that this year, but hopefully not too many in a row.”
Murphy pinch-hit for No. 9 batter Julio Borbon, the center fielder whose two-base error on the first play of the game led to the Red Sox scoring a pair of unearned runs. Borbon remained a starter even after five errors in 21 spring training games, a move that allows the Rangers to play Hamilton in left but relegates Murphy to the bench.
“I do it for my teammates. I love my teammates,” said Murphy, who started 105 games last season. “Would I like to be included more? Yes. But if I continue to hit, I don’t think I should have a problem.”
Bard said he made the exact pitch he wanted to Murphy.
“Sinker down and away. It was on the knees, outer black,” Bard said. “He just barely got the bat to it. Three inches to the left and that’s a foul ball, and we’re having a different conversation.”
Darren Oliver, the third Texas reliever, got the victory even after allowing a homer to David Ortiz in the top of the eighth that tied it at 5.
Gonzalez had two hits and drove in three runs in his Boston debut. Crawford went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts while leaving a runner in scoring position each at-bat.
Napoli pulled a pitch down the left-field line in the fourth for a three-run shot off left-hander Jon Lester, putting Texas up 5-4 and sending the sellout crowd of 50,146 into a frenzy.
“When you’re making your debut, that’s what you want to do,” said Napoli, who walked in the eighth before Torrealba singled. “I did my part today to help us win. It’s a good start.”
Napoli played the last five seasons with the AL West rival Angels, though he was traded in January to Toronto, which four days later sent him to the Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.
Kinsler returned to the top of the Texas order where he primarily hit in 2009 and started the season with a homer to make it 2-1. That extended his team record with his 14th career leadoff homer.
An inning later, Cruz hit a towering fly that dropped just behind the 14-foot wall in left.
C.J. Wilson, who won a Rangers-best 15 games last year when he made the transition from the bullpen to the rotation, struck out six with two walks in 5 2-3 innings. The crafty left-hander gave up four runs.
Lester gave up five runs over 5 1-3 innings. It was the first time in 125 career games he allowed three homers, and only the second time the lefty didn’t have a strikeout.
Gonzalez broke the 2-all tie in the third with a two-out, two-run single.
Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury, who finished with two hits and scored twice, opened the game with a fly to right-center. Borbon knocked the ball away from right fielder Cruz as he was about to make the catch.
“It was a very aggressive play on Borbon’s part. Cruz was camped,” Washington said. “It didn’t bother us. We gathered ourselves and kept playing baseball.”
Ellsbury scored on a two-out double by Youkilis, and Gonzalez drove in a run in his first Red Sox at-bat before being thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Gonzalez, whose major league debut came with Texas in 2004, was a three-time All-Star in San Diego before being traded this winter to Boston. Crawford spent his first nine major league seasons with Tampa Bay.
Crawford, who hit third, had a weak infield popout in the first. He struck out in the third, fifth and seventh.
“That was a tough day. Wilson carved him up pretty good,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “There will be a lot better days. Hopefully it’ll start tomorrow.”
NOTES: The only other Ranger with a leadoff homer in an opener was Oddibe McDowell in 1987 at Baltimore. … It was the third straight year Boston opened the season against the defending AL champion. The Red Sox beat the New York Yankees last year and Tampa Bay in the 2009 opener. … Just more than two hours before the first pitch, $15 standing-room only tickets were listed for $54 on S tubHub, and the cheapest seat was $59 in an upper reserved area that would usually be $17.
White Sox 15, Indians 10
CLEVELAND — Carlos Quentin homered and drove in five runs, Adam Dunn homered and had four RBIs in his debut for Chicago and the go-for-broke White Sox built a huge lead and held off Cleveland’s scrappy comeback, beating the Indians 15-10 in their season opener Friday.
The White Sox splurged during the offseason in an attempt to win the AL Central after finishing second to Minnesota in 2010, and the club’s $125 million payroll looks like money well spent — so far.
Chicago built a 14-0 lead after four innings for starter Mark Buehrle (1-0) and roughed up Cleveland ace Fausto Carmona (0-1) for 10 runs and 11 hits in three innings.
Quentin and Dunn each hit two-run homers in the third, and the White Sox added eight runs in the fourth.
The support was more than enough for Buehrle, who blanked the Indians for five innings before giving up five straight singles and four runs in the sixth. Starting his ninth consecutive opener, the left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings.
Carlos Santana went 3 for 5 and hit a two-run homer for the Indians, who made it interesting by scoring four in the sixth, three in the seventh, two in the eighth and one in the ninth.
Chicago’s motto this season is “All In,” a poker reference that also describes their spending spree this winter when their biggest moves were signing Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract and re-signing popular captain Paul Konerko to a three-year, $37.5 million deal.
With the beefier payroll, the White Sox can’t afford to fold.
“This is the most expensive ballclub that I’ve ever managed, now we need to live up to that,” manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game in Chicago’s dugout. “Is there pressure on me because of that? No way. If we don’t play good, then I should be fired. If we win, then keep me around.”
For four innings, the White Sox looked unbeatable.
They pounded Carmona, who was making first his start on opening day. When he was mercifully lifted by manager Manny Acta in the fourth, Carmona was booed by Cleveland fans unsure what to expect this season from a team that lost 93 games last season.
The Indians started without center fielder Grady Sizemore, who may not be up for a few more weeks as he recovers from knee surgery.
The White Sox signed the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Dunn in December, hoping he would add more punch to an already powerful lineup.
After Gordon Beckham singled to open the third, Dunn, who hit 354 homers in 10 NL seasons, crushed a 3-2 pitch from Carmona deep into Chicago’s bullpen to make it 4-0. Konerko singled, and one out later, Quentin homered to left, a shot Acta disputed but the umpires confirmed after briefly leaving the field to watch the TV video replay.
There was no arguing Carmona’s ineffectiveness.
In the fourth, he gave up a two-run double to Dunn and was replaced. Justin Germano, who didn’t allow a run during the exhibition season, was touched for a two-run double by Quentin, an RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski and two more two-run doubles by Alexi Ramirez and Brent Morel.
Before the game, the Indians said an emotional goodbye to the great Bob Feller, the Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 15. This is the first time since 1936 that Feller isn’t part of the Indians, who are honoring his legacy throughout the season.
All of the Indians players wore Feller’s No. 19 during introductions, and in a touching moment, his widow, Anne, was escorted to the mound and gently placed a baseball on the rubber, a silent ceremonial first pitch and salute to the greatest Indian of them all.
On the ball, she wrote: “Bobby, Keep Pitching, Anne.”
The White Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first off Carmona, who needed 36 pitches to record three outs and faced a tight strike zone.
Juan Pierre singled and Beckham doubled into the left-field corner. Carmona struck out Dunn and appeared to get Konerko, too, but plate umpire Mike Winters ruled a 2-2 pitch was a little high and Konerko dropped an RBI single into right.
Carmona fanned Alex Rios, but Quentin’s RBI single made it 2-0 and the White Sox were on their way.
NOTES: Pronkville has vanished. The section of seats in the second deck in right field that the Indians dedicated a few years ago to Travis Hafner is no longer. The team has removed the “Pronkville” sign. Hafner’s power numbers have dropped steadily since hitting a career-high 42 homers in 2005. … Buehrle’s nine straight opening-day starts is the AL’s longest current streak. Hall of Famers Walter Johnson and Steve Carlton share the record with 14. … Konerko has been a beast on opening day, hitting .426 (20 of 47) with 15 RBIs.