ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers won the season's first round against the rival Los Angeles Angels, riding Ian Kinsler's three-run home run in the sixth inning to a 7-3 victory Sunday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers won two of three games in their home-opening series.
Kinsler's big night: Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler reached base four times. He had a clutch two-out single in the fourth inning to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. But it was his three-run home run to right field with one out in the sixth inning that gave the Rangers some breathing room with a 7-3 lead. It was Kinsler's first home run to straight-away right field since Aug. 15, 2009 in Boston.
Darvish exits, gets win: Yu Darvish left after 85 pitches as the blister that he sustained on his right ring finger during his perfect-game bid against Houston flared up. The Rangers said the injury isn't serious. Darvish seemed to be impacted by the discomfort from the blister, walking four and hitting a batter in five innings of work. He allowed six hits and three runs. The Rangers led 4-3 when he departed, so he picked up his second win of the season.
Bullpen comes through: Darvish's exit after five innings forced the Rangers' bullpen to hold onto a 4-3 lead. Left-hander Robbie Ross allowed two hits in the sixth inning, but wiggled out of the inning as Mike Trout lined out to center field and Erick Aybar was called out on strikes. But the big story was right-hander Tanner Scheppers, who appears to have a firm grasp on a setup roll out of the bullpen. Scheppers retired six of the seven batters he faced, including a perfect eighth inning. It was the first time Scheppers has pitched two innings this season. Joe Nathan finished the game off in a non-save situation, the second time that's happened in six games.
Hamilton finally answers boos: Former Ranger Josh Hamilton, basically booed out of Rangers Ballpark this weekend, finally stepped up and responded to his former fans, ripping a double down the right-field line for his first hit in 10 at-bats in the series. It was Hamilton's second hit in 22 at-bats this season. Hamilton had two more hits after that, upping his season average to .167.
First homers: Lance Berkman and David Murphy joined the list of Rangers who have hit home runs this season, sandwiching long balls around a popup by Adrian Beltre to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first. Berkman answered the Angels' two-run top of the first with a two-run home run to right field. Murphy also went to right field on the first pitch from Angels starter Jered Weaver.
Double play surprise: The Rangers foiled a Angels' rally in the fifth inning with a twin killing, thanks in part to the slow-footed Albert Pujols and a possible missed call at first base. Pujols hit a soft ground ball to third base and Adrian Beltre came in on the grass and made a perfect throw to second base. Kinsler avoided Erick Aybar's slide into second base and just nipped Pujols at first base. Replays appeared to show Pujols was safe at first base, but his slow motion journey down the line didn't help him.
Up next: The Rangers move on from Josh Hamilton and welcome the Tampa Rays to Arlington for a three-game series. Right-hander Alexi Ogando (1-0, 0.00 ERA) gets his second start of the season against Tampa right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 7.11 ERA).