Josh Hamilton in elite company, fuels the Rangers; C.J. Wilson returns an Angel
The sports commentariat is still abuzz over Josh Hamilton’s historic four home-run showcase last Wednesday in Baltimore — and why not? Performances like Hamilton’s, the 16th in league history, are even scarcer than Major League Baseball’s 21 perfect games.
Romantic figures like Lou Gehrig, Gil Hodges, Willie Mays, and Mike Schmidt once swatted four in a day’s work, too. For the record, those happened in 1932, 1950, 1961, and 1976, respectively.
But the feat originated in Boston on May 30, 1894 at the city’s South End Grounds in a match between the hometown “Beaneaters” and the Cincinnati Reds. According to the Baseball Almanac, Boston second baseman Bobby Lowe hit two of his four homeruns in the game’s third inning; the Beaneaters, however, lost by nine runs anyway, 20-11.
Wilson’s strained relationship with DFW worsened last month when, during that same interview with Patrick, he asserted that the Rangers “kind of wasted my time…” by not approaching him with a serious contract offer during the off-season.
Toronto’s power-hitting first baseman Carlos Delgado became the club’s 15th member 109 years later on September 25, 2003. Major League Baseball needed nearly nine years and one Joshua Holt Hamilton to revisit one of its most aberrant milestones — the Ranger outfielder also set the American League record for total bases in one game, with 18.
As a whole, Texas has played the bulk of their young season outside the AL West, turning road series at Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore into 13 wins and 6 losses. The team’s 10-6 home record — over the White Sox, Mariners, Yankees, Rays, and Angels — likewise illustrates their penchant for winning every 3 game series.
The hype surrounding last weekend’s three-game set with the Angels couldn’t be overstated, even this early. For one, the revamped Angels were the punditry’s off-season darlings with their costly free-agent acquisitions of Albert Pujols and former-Ranger ace C.J. Wilson. Thus far, though, Pujols’ return on investment has been next-to-nil: At 32, the three-time MVP sports an appalling .196 batting average, with only one homerun in 138 at bats. At 14-18 and in last place entering their series in Arlington, the troubled Angels hoped to rejuvenate themselves amid a sea of Ranger fans soaring on their team’s swagger.
The rich backstory of Friday night’s C.J. Wilson vs. Yu Darvish pitching matchup imbued the game with its “Main Event” feel. Even as the ace of Texas’ back-to-back World Series teams, Wilson’s supposedly boastful, egotistical personality turned-off a vocal portion of Ranger fans; or as one such fan on an ESPN message board put it: “Ranger fans dislike him because he’s a know-it-all California boy who comes off as the biggest tool on the radio.”
Texas fans and players alike also didn’t enjoy Wilson’s spring training “prank” of Tweeting Ranger catcher Mike Napoli’s phone number. This stunt came fresh-off Napoli’s remark that he would hit a homerun off his former battery-mate. Wilson explained the urge to Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show:
“…[it was] a prank, of course…nobody liked it besides me and my friends and my teammates and people on the Rangers didn’t think it was very funny, so whatever…I learned my lesson. You can only prank people with a sense of humor, I guess.”
Wilson’s strained relationship with DFW worsened last month when, during that same interview with Patrick, he asserted that the Rangers “kind of wasted my time…” by not approaching him with a serious contract offer during the off-season. The 31 year-old lefthander subsequently signed a five-year, $77.5 million contract with the Angels, his hometown team. The Rangers, for their part, could’ve afforded to re-sign him, but instead allocated a whopping $107 million to sign Japanese standout pitcher Yu Darvish, 25, to a six-year contract.
As a counterblow, a caustic Ranger fan created a mock commercial for “C.J. Wilson Douche Bags” on Funny or Die’s website.
It was in this spirit of sportsmanship and fair play that the Angels and Rangers met for the first of their 19 games together. The Wilson-Darvish matchup was but a tease, though, thanks to a 1-hour and 56 minute rain delay that interrupted the game’s first inning. The Angels elected to save Wilson’s arm for the following day, but Texas’ Darvish (5-1, 2.84 ERA) pitched comfortably with an early 6-0 lead to last 5 1/3 innings — allowing three runs on three hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts in Texas’ 10-3 win.
Josh Hamilton, meanwhile, prolonged his blistering offensive tear with two more home runs, and one more place in history: having become only the third Major Leaguer to hit 17 homeruns in his team’s first 33 games.
Wilson’s official homecoming took place on Saturday afternoon against Texas lefty Matt Harrison; Wilson’s sturdy performance allowing only two earned runs across 5 2/3 innings kept the score knotted at 2-2 in the seventh, when a succession of walks, bunt singles, and sacrifice flies gave Los Angles a 4-2 lead they would keep. Wilson (4-3, 3.42 ERA) earned a no-decision; Matt Harrison wore the loss for Texas; and Josh Hamilton did indeed hit another homerun, his 18th.
Texas captured the series on Sunday night with a 13-6 win.
The Rangers’ home stand will culminate with two games apiece against Kansas City and Oakland before they draw pistols with the Astros (15-19) in the Lone Star Classic, May 18-20 in Houston.