Last night may have been the first game of the season, but today is the real start of baseball across America. It's the greatest day of the year.
Baseball is back. And tonight, the Texas Rangers wipe the slate clean and begin anew, as they look to go back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Kevin Millwood will take the mound against John Lackey and the Angels at 9:05 PM CST, with TV broadcasts on KDFI/My27 and ESPN2. Pretty much the only thing in doubt is whether Sammy Sosa or Nelson Cruz will start in right field tonight, as Frank Catalanotto will likely play in left field and Brad Wilkerson will probably DH. Dave Sessions writes it'll probably be Sosa, as Ron Washington seems to think Sammy's defense is adequate enough, and doesn't want to hurt Nelson's confidence against a tough pitcher like Lackey. I don't really agree with that decision, but at least we'll get a glimpse of what Sosa is going to bring to the table right off the bat. In any case, whoever doesn't get the start tonight will start on Tuesday.
Sessions also notes that Kameron Loe and Joaquin Benoit will be the setup men while Eric Gagne is on the disabled list, with Aki Otsuka returning to that role when Gagne returns. Aki's still going to get his fair share of save opportunities even after Gagne returns, though. Eric threw 15 pitches in a minor league game on Saturday, and is expected to make another outing today.
All the past disappointments and failures of the Texas Rangers are forgotten tonight. The sobering fact that the Rangers have won one playoff game in their 36 year history doesn't matter tonight. All the predictions and projections made in the off-season don't matter anymore. All that matters is this one simple quote from Michael Young:
"This team should win," Young said. "It will win. We believe in ourselves. That's the simplest way to put it."
Let's go, baby.