HOUSTON, Texas -- The focus of the Rangers' season-opening 8-2 loss to the Astros on Sunday fell upon Matt Harrison's walks, Ron Washington's decision to bring in Derek Lowe and for many fans, right-fielder Nelson Cruz's fifth-inning error that led directly to two runs.
But don't forget about a dreadful opener from an offensive standpoint, something the Rangers want to turn around Tuesday night against another right-hander, Lucas Harrell.
The Rangers had six singles Sunday night, three of them coming in the sixth inning. Of all the things they could have used, an extra-base hit would have been at the top of the list against a pitcher, Bud Norris, making his first Opening Day start.
Trailing 4-0 entering the top of the sixth, the Rangers were able to string together a walk and three hits against a wobbly Norris and cut the lead to 4-2. But they couldn't get the extra-base hit to break open the inning.
"Sometimes it takes a little while for the offense to click," said David Murphy, who had one of the Rangers' hits. "We know our offense is good. Usually, we hit some balls hard and have good results."
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski had a pivotal at-bat in the top of the sixth, coming up with the tying run on base after Murphy and Cruz had singled in runs. Pierzynski, who had singled in the second inning, faced the challenge of a lefty-lefty matchup with Astros reliever Erik Bedard, who entered the game to face the Rangers' catcher.
Pierzynski made a good swing, but Bedard was able to keep Pierzynski from pulling the ball for a fly out to center-fielder Justin Maxwell.
"I just popped it up," Pierzynski said. "I just missed it. It happens."
The Rangers' hitters gave credit to Norris, who challenged them with a 94-mph fastball and a hard slider. Lance Berkman had the most success against Norris with two singles.
"It's not like Bud isn't capable," Berkman, a teammate of Norris' in 2009 and part of 2010. "He has a great arsenal. When he has his location, he's a tough guy to beat."
The Rangers have a group of veteran hitters -- except for rookie Leonys Martin -- so they weren't too worried by Sunday's offensive woes.
"It's Game 1," Murphy said. "We lost Game 1 of the 2010 ALCS and won the series (against the Yankees)."