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Let's hope this is a good omen

By Jason K. Thompson
4/5/10

We didn't have to wait long for the first heart-stopping game of the season for this Rangers team. What a great win. This team looks like it's going to pick up right where they left off last season. We saw some of the good and bad of 2009 today. The offense struggled mightily for the first 6 innings, Scott Feldman got a lot of fly balls instead of grounders, and Neftali Feliz has an ERA of 27 for the season, but there were three really good things I took from the game.

1) Scott Feldman was struggling to get ground balls, but he battled and gave the Rangers 7 innings of mostly-quality pitching. He looked like a veteran pitcher out there, doing whatever he had to do to keep his team in the game even when he wasn't at his best. That's a good sign--remember, he's only 27 years old, he's not even at his prime yet, hopefully.

2) All that clutch hitting. How many times are you going to get a W when your lead-off and number-3 hitters are 0 for 7 combined? But Vlad Guerrero and Nelson Cruz picked up the slack with some clutch at-bats in the 7th and 9th. Not to mention Michael Young and Jarrod Saltalamacchia who finally delivered in the ninth. It felt like there was nothing Toronto could do to beat Texas. It felt like that a lot last season when this team was within striking distance going into the late innings. That bodes well for the Rangers' hopes of becoming a consistent, winning team.

3) Big Bad Vlad. I know what you're thinking: "it was Cruz who had the big game and Salty who won the game for us." I know. But Big Daddy Vladdy is going to be crucial to this team's offensive success. If you've never noticed this before, the cleanup spot is the most important spot in the Rangers' lineup. It has been for years. Today is some more evidence of that. When the top of the order's not getting it done, they need Vlad to come through for them. And with Kinsler (eventually), Cruz, and Davis following him, he's going to be the hinge of the entire lineup. If he's not getting on base for Nelson Cruz today, the Rangers lose that game. Just watch: the Rangers will live or die by Vladimir Guerrero this year.

Great start to the season; it will be great if the Rangers are again a team that makes you battle for all 27 outs like they did today.