ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland, like anybody else, wanted to play on Opening Day. He also wanted the Rangers to win.So Moreland was right there with the rest of his teammates, congratulating first baseman Mike Napoli when he hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. "Oh yeah," Moreland said. "I was fired up. We had a lot of big hits and that was definitely a game-changer." The Rangers expect left-handed Moreland to get big hits for them as their regular first baseman during the season. But in his first Major League Opening Day, he was content to cheer on Napoli. He never did get a chance to fully work off that big breakfast of biscuits and gravy and the hash-brown casserole at the Cracker Barrel with his fiancee Susannah.
But he was able to enjoy the Rangers' 9-5 victory over the Red Sox at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday."A great day," Moreland said. Napoli was picked by manager Ron Washington to start at first base against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Washington wanted Napoli's right-handed bat and that didn't bother Moreland. "No, not at all," Moreland said. Napoli came up against Lester with two on and two out in the fourth. He worked the count 2-2, then pulled a breaking ball down the left field line for a three-run home run. "I had two strikes and I was just trying to battle," Napoli said. "I just kind of reacted to the pitch. I wasn't looking to hit it hard." Red Sox manager Terry Francona referred to it as the swing that changed the game. But Napoli also had a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth inning that started the Rangers' four-run rally against Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard. "It was nice," Napoli said. "That's what you want to do, do something to help your team win. It happened to me today but it could happen to anybody." Moreland never got off the bench. He will on Saturday. Washington said Moreland will start, with right-hander John Lackey on the mound for the Red Sox. The Red Sox are pitching another right-hander, Clay Buchholz, on Sunday so that should be two straight starts for Moreland. He'll be in the lineup far more than not this season. He just got to watch on Opening Day and that was good enough for him. "It was awesome," Moreland said. "It was a great day. A lot of guys stepped up. That's what a day like this is all about."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.