ARLINGTON -- Robin Ventura's first game as a player came on Sept. 12, 1989, when the third baseman finished with one hit and one RBI during a White Sox victory over the Orioles.
His regular-season debut as a manager took place Friday before a Rangers Ballpark sellout of 49,085. And the Rangers' 3-2 win wasn't quite the same success story for Ventura as when he was first on the field.
"It's better to be a player," said Ventura with a smile, when asked if the feeling Friday was comparable to his first big league start. "It really is. It's better to play."
Aside from the final outcome, Ventura had to be fairly happy with his first game managing that counted toward the standings.
Most Opening Day Home Runs
|Ken Griffey Jr.||8|
Instead of looking for fault after just one game, the White Sox tipped their cap to the two-time defending American League champion for being the slightly better team on this sunny afternoon.
"We figured we were probably going to lose a game this year," Ventura said. "So you don't like losing, but we got some guys on late and just didn't get them in."
"Everyone is a little excited, probably trying to do a little too much," White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "Overall, we played well and Johnny [Danks] pitched well and we were one hit from winning that game."
Dunn was one of the Opening Day highlights for the White Sox, supporting Danks in the left-hander's first career Opening Day start. Lewis mesmerized the White Sox for five innings, fanning eight and pitching out of just one jam in the fourth, before Dunn launched a long ball on a 3-2 pitch to open the sixth.
The 431-foot clout into the right-field upper deck marked Dunn's first since Aug. 4, 2011, and gave him eight career Opening Day homers. That total ties Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson for the Major League record.
"I wasn't aware of it," said Dunn when apprised of tying the record. "That's pretty cool, but again, the object is to win the game. We just couldn't seem to get the big hit."
The White Sox actually tied the game in the sixth when Alex Rios raced home all the way from first on Alexei Ramirez's two-out single to left-center, after Rios was hit by a pitch. But the Rangers regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning, making a winner of Lewis and handing Danks the defeat.
Josh Hamilton singled, moved to second when third baseman Brent Morel bobbled Adrian Beltre's potential double-play grounder for a moment before throwing him out at first and then scored on Michael Young's single. It was a thoroughly forgettable Opening Day for Morel, who accounted for four of the team's 13 strikeouts against the Rangers, while also committing an error.
So, Morel simply intends to forget this tough performance.
"We just ate together, and I told him, 'Momma said there would be days like this,'" said White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, who starts Saturday night's game, of his conversation with Morel. "I said, 'You could come out tomorrow and go 2-for-4 and forget about this.'"
"Obviously, you try to have the days where everything is perfect a lot more than the ones that are like this," said Morel, who stood in front of his locker and took on all postgame questions. "It's a 162-game fight and I lost the first one. But I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow."
Danks gave up three runs on six hits over six innings, striking out six and not issuing a walk. Ian Kinsler proved to be the only real trouble spot for Danks, as the Rangers' leadoff man doubled and scored on Hamilton's sacrifice fly in the first and homered on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the third. Those two gave the second baseman seven straight hits against Danks.
"Looking back, there was only one pitch I'd like to have back and that's the Kinsler pitch," Danks said. "He's hit me well since I've been up here. I tried to show him something different, didn't make a pitch and he showed why he's one of the best second basemen in the league."
"I've known Danks for a long time and I enjoy facing him," Kinsler said. "He's a guy who comes right at you. He kept his pitch count down and threw a lot of strikes. He's a very good pitcher. That's why he's their Opening Day pitcher."
Alexi Ogando struck out the side in the seventh, and Joe Nathan cruised through the ninth for his first Texas save. The White Sox stranded a runner at second against Mike Adams in the eighth, after stranding a runner at second with nobody out following Dayan Viciedo's leadoff double in the second, leaving them a little behind in search of Ventura's first victory.
"All the pieces were there, but we came up a run short," said reliever Matt Thornton, who threw a scoreless eighth. "So be it. That's the way it is."
"You can look at one game and create any kind of feel you want, but it's about coming back day after day and doing that," Ventura said. "That's when it means something."