ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz became the first set of teammates to homer in each of the first three games in a season, and Matt Harrison pitched the Texas Rangers to a 5-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday and a sweep of their season-opening series.
David Murphy and Mike Napoli also homered as Texas’ first three hits — and four of five — were all solo shots.
The reigning AL champion Rangers really thumped the favorites for this year’s pennant, hitting 11 home runs on the way to outscoring them 26-11 in the series. The teams won’t meet again until Aug. 22 at Fenway Park.
Terry Francona spoke with WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller after the game.
Texas is 3-0 for the second time in three years. Boston fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1996, a season that began 0-5. The Red Sox are off Monday, then will try to snap out of their funk starting Tuesday in Cleveland.
Kinsler and Cruz came into the game as only the sixth set of teammates to homer in the first two games of a season. Kinsler also had become the first player to hit a leadoff homer in each of the first two games. Clay Buchholz (0-1) walked him in the first inning to avoid any chance of making it three straight, then Kinsler delighted in going deep in his second plate appearance.
Cruz’s homer was notable, too, as it was just the second by a right-handed batter to reach the upper deck in right field at Rangers Ballpark.
For all the long balls, Harrison (1-0) really was the star of the game. The left-hander allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, tying his career high with eight strikeouts and walking two.
He was dominant from the start, striking out two batters in the first inning and five his first time through the lineup. Adrian Gonzalez came into the game 5 for 9 without a strikeout, and fanned in his first two at-bats — swinging, then looking.
When the Red Sox made contact during the first six innings, it often was slow rollers. A leadoff walk in the seventh showed Harrison was fading. He gave up a one-out RBI single to Carl Crawford — his first RBI since joining the Red Sox — then faced the bases loaded with two outs. Harrison got out of it by striking out Jacoby Ellsbury, prompting smiles and fist bumps between manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Murphy got Texas going with a homer in the second inning, then Kinsler followed in the third. Napoli went deep in the fifth, Cruz in the seventh. The only run not driven in by a homer was an RBI double by Michael Young in the eighth.
The Rangers had a chance to pile on more runs in the eighth, loading the bases with no outs. But Jonathan Papelbon struck out the next three hitters.
Buchholz allowed only five hits over 6 1-3 innings, but four of them went over the fence. He struck out three and walked two.
Crawford, Boston’s $142 million offseason addition, was dropped from third in the lineup to seventh after starting the season 0 for 7 with four strikeouts. He went 2 for 4, getting his first hit of the season in the second inning with a line drive that landed just inside the third-base line.
Young, Murphy and Napoli all had two hits for Texas.
Young played second base for the first time since September 2003. He was forced to make a barehanded play on a slow roller by the game’s leadoff hitter. He made it, too.
NOTES: Kinsler joined Dean Palmer (1992) as the only Rangers to homer in the first three games of a season. In franchise history, Frank Howard did it, too, for the 1969 Washington Senators. … Voston’s David Ortiz just missed homering in the first three games, as a ninth-inning drive only reached the warning track in center field. … All three starting pitchers Boston used in this series allowed at least two homers. … Chad Curtis was the first right-handed hitter to reach the upper deck in right field. He did it while playing for Texas in 2000. … The series drew 144,828, the most ever at Rangers Ballpark for a season-opening, three-game series, topping the stadium’s opening weekend in 1994.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)