"I've never won like this," the burly slugger said after a 3-2 victory over Seattle on Monday. "Only way you can go is up."
Actually, it was a pretty good way for the defending AL West champs to start, with Cole Hamels overcoming a shaky first two innings and keeping Texas close before three walks by Hernandez and two errors by the Mariners in a three-run fifth inning put the Rangers in front.
"However we can win a game, especially against Felix Hernandez, I'm good," said Adrian Beltre, whose potential double-play grounder ended up scoring the go-ahead run when shortstop Ketel Marte misplayed it.
Seattle had a chance to join the Boston Beaneaters (1887-96) as the only major league clubs to win 10 straight openers. Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager homered early for the Mariners, but the midgame mistakes cost them in the debut of manager Scott Servais.
Hernandez fell to 6-1 in nine Opening Day starts. Hampered by a lack of run support throughout much of his career, the ace right-hander gave up one earned run in six innings, walking five and striking out six.
"That's not me," Hernandez said. "I was missing a lot of pitches. All game. I would say I was wild, but when I got in trouble, I made good pitches."
Lefty reliever Jake Diekman struck out Cano on a wild swing during a perfect eighth inning. Closer Shawn Tolleson had a perfect ninth for a save in just the second win for Texas when getting one hit. The other was 1-0 at Kansas City in July 1993.
Seager opened the ninth with a grounder that second baseman Rougned Odor fielded and threw from near the right field line to Tolleson covering the bag.
Cano and Seager matched the number of lefty hitters to homer off the left-handed Hamels all last season in the first two innings.
Cano's line drive bounced into the first couple of rows in right field, and Seager hit a soaring shot over the 407-foot mark in right-center.
"Obviously I got them off to a good start," said Hamels, who struck out eight in seven innings. "At the same time, I've got to be able to focus and manage the game. I think that's kind of what I was able to do along those lines."
Odor opened the Texas fifth with a walk, stole second and was racing toward third when Seager misplayed Elvis Andrus' grounder in front of him.
Shin-Soo Choo's bases-loaded walk ruined Hernandez's shutout, then Fielder ended the no-hit bid with a bloop away from the shift into shallow left field to tie the score. Beltre's sharp one-out grounder with the bases loaded kicked off Marte's glove.
"Felix just lost command a little bit, and we didn't make all the plays behind him," Servais said. "Other than that, I thought we played a ball game. Our pitching was outstanding all day."
South Korean-born slugger Dae-Ho Lee made his major league debut in a big spot for Seattle. The 33-year-old Asian star struck out against Hamels with two on in the seventh, trailing 3-2.
50-50 FOR THE SCREEN
The new protective netting above the dugouts stopped a line drive from Odor in the sixth inning. But the big end of the broken bat flew into the first row of the stands about 20 feet past where the ball hit the net. Nobody was hit, though.
NOT SO FAST
Choo stole second base in the first inning, but was sent back when Fielder was called out for batter's interference. Fielder stepped out of the way of a pitch at his feet and stumbled across the plate as Chris Iannetta threw to second.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma makes the first start of his fifth season with Seattle a week shy of his 35th birthday. He is 8-3-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 14 appearances against Texas, including 13 starts.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez, who turned 25 Monday, had all three of his wins last year at home. He missed the first half of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
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