When the Rangers play their home opener Friday, the five-time All-Star slugger and former AL MVP will be in the other dugout with the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels .
Texas took two of three in its season-opening series against the Astros, the division's newest team, and Yu Darvish came within an out of a perfect game and Rangers pitchers struck out 43 batters with two shutout victories.
Los Angeles won at Cincinnati in its opener before the Reds took the final two games of the series. Hamilton went 1 for 12 with six strikeouts in the set, driving in two runs Thursday in a 5-4 loss.
That won't matter much. Hamilton being in a different uniform for the first home series of the season will be a big focus.
"He was a good teammate and we enjoyed having him and everything. He's a freak athlete, he's great, but now he's on the other team and I don't really care," said left-hander Derek Holland , the scheduled starter for Texas. "Just like anybody else, I wish him the best but at the same time you want to go out there and win."
The Rangers, who went to their only two World Series with Hamilton in their lineup, will be playing at home for the first time since that one-and-done, wild-card 5-1 loss to Baltimore last October. Hamilton was 0 for 4 in that game with two strikeouts, both on three pitches. He swung at the first pitch his other at-bats - including a double-play grounder in the first that sent home the Rangers' only run.
"I'm not expecting anything I can't handle," Hamilton said Thursday. "I figured I'd try to run out there when Albert (Pujols) is announced before me and as they're booing him, just kind of slide out there behind him so it's not so bad. ... I was booed when I played there. Why would you expect not to be when I'm playing here?"
Hamilton took a $125 million, five-year deal from the Angels after a career-high 43 home runs with 128 RBIs in 148 games for Texas last season.
He'll be facing a Rangers staff that has the most strikeouts by any team in the first three games of a season since 1900. Texas is the first team since 1920 with consecutive 15-strikeout games while not allowing a run. Darvish had 14 in a 7-0 win Tuesday, and starter Alexi Ogando struck out 10 in Wednesday's 4-0 victory at Houston.
Holland is next up for the Rangers after going 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA in 29 appearances - 27 starts - last season. He went 2-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts against Los Angeles and owns a career 5.58 ERA in 16 matchups.
Switch-hitter Lance Berkman , the veteran free agent Texas has put in the No. 3 spot Hamilton occupied, was 6 for 10 with a double and three RBIs in the season-opening series.
"As time goes on, I think people are going to disconnect him with Texas and connect him more with us. ... I think (Texas) fans understand his contributions," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I don't think Josh gets caught up in that, actually. In the dugout, at the plate, he's very level-headed and focused."
After Hamilton made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2007, the Rangers acquired the slugger in a trade that winter.
"I think it's cool when we're beginning the season in Cincinnati, then we go straight to Texas," Hamilton said. "Just reminds you that these were seasons of your life and they were good seasons of your life, and it's time to move to a different one."
Another player beginning his first season with a new team will be on the mound when Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.85 ERA) gets the start for the Angels. The left-hander was acquired from division rival Seattle for power hitter Kendrys Morales on Dec. 19 after setting career bests in wins and starts (33) last season.
Vargas went 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA in four starts against Texas in 2012.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|March 22, 2013||Andrew Taylor||15-Day DL||Left labrum tear|
|March 22, 2013||Ryan Madson||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 31, 2013||Joakim Soria||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 31, 2013||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 31, 2013||Martin Perez||15-Day DL||Cracked ulna bone, left forearm|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 03, 2013||Martin Perez||Day-to-Day||Fractured left forearm|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Texas Rangers fans were cheering again for Josh Hamilton - this time when the slugger struck out.
Making the home opener even sweeter for them, speedy Craig Gentry scored the go-ahead on Ian Kinsler 's two-out single in the eighth inning as the Rangers won 3-2 Friday over Hamilton and the AL West-rival Los Angeles Angels .
Hamilton was a five-time All-Star and the 2010 AL MVP while with Texas before going to the Angels with a $125 million, five-year contract over the winter. He was booed when he was introduced, then cheered when he struck out twice while going 0 for 4.
"I'd lie to you if I said it didn't bother me a little bit. But it didn't like overwhelm me," Hamilton said. "It's what I expected."
Kinsler's sharp single to right was fielded by Hamilton, who short-hopped a throw to the plate as Gentry dived headfirst to score.
Gentry reached with a one-out single off Scott Downs (0-2), the fourth Angels pitcher. Gentry took off on his own for the stolen base, then after pinch-hitter Jeff Baker struck out, Gentry put his head down with every intention to score on Kinsler's hit.
"We were struggling the whole game to put some runs across," Gentry said. "You've got to gamble right there and you've got to take a chance."
Even with the strong-armed Hamilton in right fielding the ball.
"Felt good, man, felt good. Came out hot. Short-hopped him," Hamilton said before a sigh. "I already replayed it in my mind 100 times. Came up and gave it a good throw and that's all you can do. He's fast."
Tanner Scheppers (1-0) pitched an inning in relief of starter Derek Holland . Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his first save, an inning that started with him retiring Albert Pujols and Hamilton on flyballs.
Kinsler got a hit and drove in a run for the fifth home opener in a row.
Hamilton, 1 for 16 this season, was booed during pregame introductions and when he came to bat each time. Those boos became cheers when took a strike on the first pitch in the second inning, and the sellout crowd of 48,845 erupted when he struck out swinging.
"I heard the crowd erupt every time," Holland said. "I'm just going after him, treating him like every other hitter. ... He's a great hitter, I just didn't really want to give him too much to hit. He can hit it a mile away."
Chris Iannetta homered and scored both runs for the Angels, who have lost three in a row since a season-opening victory at Cincinnati - Hamilton's other former major league team.
Adrian Beltre homered in the seventh for Texas, which has won three in a row since dropping the season opener at Houston. Nelson Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski each had three hits.
Holland, who pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, allowed two runs over seven innings. The left-hander struck out five and walked one.
Jason Vargas allowed one run over 5 2-3 innings in his first start for the Angels, who acquired the left-hander last winter when they traded Kendrys Morales to Seattle. Vargas allowed eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
The Rangers were playing their first game at home since a 5-1 loss to Baltimore last October in the one-and-done AL wild-card game.
Hamilton was also 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in that game when he was booed by the home fans who had cheered him through five All-Star seasons and the franchise's only two World Series appearances.
Hamilton was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1999, but his career was derailed by alcohol and substance abuse in the minor leagues. He finally made his debut for the Reds in 2007, then was traded after that season to Texas, where his career surged.
"I got worn out as good today as I had anywhere else. The booing was a little louder. The chants, I've been called a crack head before at Yankee Stadium and places like that, just like it was today," Hamilton said. "It probably hurt a little more to know that people would turn that quickly. To think that they kind of supported you as far as personal, your story, things like that. Just tells you a lot."
Iannetta's second homer of the season tied the game at 1 in the third.
Alberto Callaspo and Iannetta had consecutive singles to start the fifth. Callaspo was picked off second base by Holland, then thrown out trying to advance while Iannetta went to second. Mike Trout doubled off the left-field wall for a 2-1 Angels lead.
Cruz has had multiple hits in every game after getting two hits in each of the three games at Houston.
Cruz had a leadoff double in the second and scored when Pierzynski, the catcher playing his first home game for the Rangers, tripled into the right-field corner. The ball ricocheted off the wall past Hamilton, and Pierzynski slid into third base at the same time the tag was being applied.
Pierzynski was stranded at third base when Kinsler had an inning-ending liner. After Pierzynski's leadoff single in the sixth, he got to second base but no further when Kinsler flew out to end the inning.
"Personally I had a lot of opportunities with two outs and runners in scoring position and I wasn't getting it done," Kinsler said. "Definitely it was a relief to get that hit in the eighth there."
NOTES: The Rangers had 12 hits and left 11 runners on base. ... Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sat in the front row, about a dozen seats down from where CEO Nolan Ryan with former President George W. Bush. ... Iannetta was 2 for 13 in games at Rangers Ballpark last season. Both of those hits were homers.