Rangers 7, Royals 5
The Rangers kicked off their 22nd season by winning their 8th consecutive Opening Day contest, knocking off the Kettering Royals 7-5 on Sunday, April 22 at Gastineau Field in New Carlisle.
Joe Becker got his third Opening Day assignment on the mound and was solid over six frames as he earned his second career Opening Day win.
With no opportunity during the preseason to get any practice out on a diamond, it was a foregone conclusion that defense would be an early question mark on how the team would adjust. The top of the first saw the Royals put a couple baserunners on with one out. Becker induced a sure-fire double play ball that resulted in an errant throw that kept the inning alive for the Royals. Two batters later and the Royals grabbed an early 2-0 lead.
The Rangers took their first inning hacks against Royals' righty Tyler Eaton. Nick Gilmore singled to lead things off, followed by a single from Eric Becker. Ben Schooler then doubled down the left field line to plate Gilmore. Brandon Marshall and Jonmarc Lippincott followed with RBI groundouts to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
As Joe Becker settled in and was blanking the Royals over the next 4 innings, the Rangers added insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Andrew Holland singled home Luke Trubee who started off the fourth with his first career Rangers hit, a double to deep center. Eric Becker's sac fly plated Gilmore, who tripled to start the fifth inning to increase the Rangers' lead to 5-2.
With Joe seemingly in cruise control, coach Lippincott elected to stick with his veteran right-hander for the sixth inning. The move appeared to almost backfire as the Royals ripped four straight hits to cut the lead to 5-4. But with runners on first and third and nobody out, Becker reached for his inner Max Scherzer and K'd the next three batters to keep the Rangers on top by one run and finish the afternoon with 9 strikeouts.
Becker handed the ball over to Luke Trubee in the 7th to help preserve the lead. Returning from a 6-year absence, Trubee K'd the first batter he saw and kept the Royals off the board until a 2-out wind-blown double to center eluded an outstretched Eric Becker to give the Royals their final tally.
Meanwhile the Rangers worked a couple of two-out walks and a couple of wild pitches from Royals reliever Brennan Flaherty before Schooler cleared the bags with 2-run single.
Joe Becker scattered 8 hits, allowed 2 earned runs and struck out 9 for the win. Luke Trubee registered the save with 3 innings of 3-hit baseball, striking out 4.
Offensive highlights: Nick Gilmore 2-for-3, 3 runs, triple; Eric Becker 1-for-2, 2 runs, RBI, sac; Ben Schooler 3-for-4, 3 RBIs, 2 doubles; Luke Trubee 2-for-4, 2 doubles; Andrew Holland 2-for-4 RBI, SB.
Historical Notes: The Rangers improved to 14-8 overall in Opening Day games. Joe Becker moved into 4th place in league history with 389.33 innings pitched.