Down by 11 runs in the home half of the ninth inning in their home opener on Friday night, the Angels rewarded the die-hards among 43,838 Angel Stadium customers who stuck around, delivering a rousing finish.
Scoring six times and sending 11 men to the plate against three Rangers pitchers, the Angels finally expired, 11-6, when Garret Anderson's towering drive to right against lefty Eddie Guardado came to a rest in Marlon Byrd's glove on the warning track, 5 feet shy of the wall.
"I got good backspin on that ball and hit it good," Anderson said, "but not good enough in this park. You've got to get it all. This park's never been kind to left-handed power hitters. It's a long way out there."
Two of the Angels' seven hits in the ninth came off the bat of Torii Hunter, who started the inning with a single and lashed his second hit of the inning and third of the night before Anderson's drive fell short of setting off more fireworks.
"When I was on the other side, I was always pumped up playing here," said Hunter, who wasn't sure if he'd ever had two hits in an inning before. "This is a live crowd, loud, having a good time. Hey, they were chanting my name in the ninth inning. I'm earning my stripes."
Chone Figgins' single in the ninth was his third hit of the game, giving him a perfect night with a pair of walks. He's hitting .474, lashing balls just as he did when he was the Majors' leading hitter last season from May through September.
Among other ninth-inning highlights were Howard Kendrick's two-run triple, lifting his average to .421, Gary Matthews' RBI double and a two-run double by Reggie Willits in his first at-bat of the season.
"You always have a little anxiety first time up," Willits said. "It's good to get it out of the way. We stirred things up a little there, didn't we?"
The night had begun with a festive air. But after the 2007 American League West title banner was raised by Figgins, Anderson, Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey, and saxophonist Kenny G delivered a rousing national anthem, the Angels hit mostly wrong notes until they stirred in the ninth.
Dustin Moseley struggled through his first start, yielding five earned runs in five innings, and the Rangers were on their way to a sixth straight win against their AL West rivals.
Kason Gabbard, putting the craft in crafty southpaw, and Ben Broussard, unloading a grand slam, were primarily responsible for spoiling the occasion, but they had a lot of help.
Josh Hamilton was a homer shy of a cycle, driving in three runs. Ian Kinsler doubled twice, singled and drove in two runs. David Murphy doubled, singled and walked, scoring twice.
After an auspicious opening featuring a pair of first-inning strikeouts, Moseley let a fastball get away from him in the second, and it cost him a run. With Murphy, having doubled, at third with two outs and an 0-2 count on Broussard, Moseley cut loose with a wild pitch that sailed over catcher Mike Napoli's head to the backstop, allowing Murphy to score. Broussard promptly grounded out.
Wildness cost Moseley in the fourth after Milton Bradley's one-out double. Murphy walked and Marlon Byrd was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.
Broussard launched his sixth career grand slam and second homer of the season into the seats in right-center.
"It was a 1-1 breaking ball down," Moseley said. "I felt good up until then. I was throwing well. I'd thrown two breaking balls to that point. I threw the pitch where I wanted it, and he got me. Going to your third best pitch in that point in the game isn't very smart, and he took advantage of it."
Gabbard, acquired along with Murphy from the Red Sox last summer in the Eric Gagne deal, was assisted by three double plays started by shortstop Michael Young in the first four innings.
"Gabbard's a soft-throwing lefty like Kenny Rogers," Hunter said. "He doesn't give in. He's going to throw that two-seamer down and keep throwing it. An aggressive team like ours can have trouble with those guys.
"Once he got out of there, we got some things going."
Too little too late, but it was clearly a lot of fun for those who hung around to welcome the new center fielder with his first chant.
"I really like it here," Hunter said, smiling.
It appears the feeling is mutual.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less