On a night that belonged in one sense to Rangers legend Ivan
Rodriguez, perhaps the greatest catcher to play the game, the home team’s hero,
as far as I’m concerned, was the club’s current man behind the plate.
In the seven seasons since Pudge left Texas, four different catchers have started
on Opening Day, but the one who donned the gear on April 6 has a real chance to
hold the spot down for a long time.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia won’t catch over 2,200 big league games, and almost
certainly won’t log 1,500 games behind the plate as a Ranger, but the
improvement he’s made this season as a field general has been one of the best Rangers
stories in what continues to be a storybook year.
The home run in the bottom of the third was big, but
Saltalamacchia’s top of the ninth was spectacular. In two pivotal plays, back to back, he put on
a display of Pudge-like quickness, footwork, arm strength, and accuracy. It was a fitting tribute to the man in the
other dugout tonight, and David Murphy never gets the chance to win the game in
the tenth if not for what Saltalamacchia did in the ninth.