ARLINGTON, Texas – Colby Lewis struck out nine in his first opening day start, Ian Kinsler homered and the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers began the season with a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
Kinsler, unable to reach a deal on a new long-term contract before his self-imposed deadline of opening day to end negotiations, had a leadoff double in the first and scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Hamilton. Kinsler hit a solo homer in the third.
The loss spoiled the managerial debut of Robin Ventura, who before the game had his first meeting with Nolan Ryan since charging the mound 19 seasons earlier against the Hall of Fame pitcher. Ryan is now president, CEO and part-owner of the Rangers.
It was a picture-perfect day — 75 degrees under blue skies — for the Rangers' opener, which came just more than five months after they twice came within one strike of a World Series championship before losing in seven games to St. Louis.
Lewis (1-0) walked only one over six innings, throwing 70 of 100 pitches for strikes. The only other Rangers pitcher with nine strikeouts in a season opener was Ryan in 1991.
Alexi Ogando, an All-Star and 13-game winner as a starter last season, is back in the bullpen and struck out all three batters in faced in the seventh after Texas regained the lead and Lewis left.
New Rangers closer Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth for the save.
Hamilton, the slugger and former AL MVP who can become a free agent after this season, had a leadoff single in the sixth off White Sox starter John Danks (0-1). Hamilton scored to break a 2-all tie on a single by Michael Young, the longest-tenured Ranger starting his 12th season.
Adam Dunn homered leading off the sixth for the White Sox, tying a major league record with his eighth opening day home run when he pulled a ball into the second deck of seats in right field. Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey Jr. are the only other major leaguers who have eight homers in openers.
Dunn batted third in the White Sox lineup. Last year, the highly paid slugger hit .159 with only 11 homers while striking out 177 times in 415 at-bats.
Alex Rios was hit by a pitch with two outs in the White Sox sixth, and the speedster was on the run when Alexi Ramirez singled to left. Rios scored to tie it at 2.
Danks' first opening day start came in the stadium he visited often growing up in Austin about three hours away and where he always expected to pitch an opener after being drafted ninth overall by Texas in 2003. But he was traded to Chicago in December 2006, and got a new $65 million, five-year contract from the White Sox this winter.
Ventura, a surprise hire by the White Sox after Ozzie Guillen went to be Miami's manager, hadn't spoken to Ryan since charging the mound against him on a hot August night at old Arlington Stadium in 1993. Ryan, 20 years older and in the last year of his playing career, got Ventura in a headlock and landed several blows. Ventura was then a 26-year-old third baseman for the White Sox.
Before Friday's opener, Ryan went to the White Sox clubhouse and visited with Ventura.
Notes: It is the sixth time Dunn has homered in the first game of the season. He twice had two homers on opening day, in 2005 and 2007 while with Cincinnati. ... The 13 strikeouts by Texas pitchers were a record for opening day. The previous record was 11, in that 1991 opener when Ryan had nine.