Prince Fielder’s power is diminishing. His timing, however, appears as keen as ever.
In a season in which he’ll barely hit 20 homers and fall ridiculously short of his career-high 50, Fielder produced quality over quantity Monday night against the Astros.
In the 8th inning of a 3-3 game kicking off a four-game series that might well decide the AL West, Fielder crushed a 3-2 pitch for a two-run homer that sparked Texas’ crucial 5-3 win.
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It was the Rangers’ most important homer in two years. They could overtake Houston for first place with a win Tuesday night in Arlington.
Fielder’s smash took Cole Hamels off the hook for not being able to hold a one-run lead in the 7th inning. And it sent the Monday night crowd of 27,772 into a playoff-type frenzy. Mostly, it proved that Fielder – even as his career and this seasons trends downward – still has a flair for the dramatic.
He came into last night on a pretty significant slide, hitting only .253 with four homers and 21 RBI since the All-Star break. In his previous 31 games, he’d hit exactly one homer.
Perhaps the Astros took him too lightly, as manager A.J. Hinch allowed right-handed reliever Will Harris in to face the left-handed Fielder.
When the Rangers traded for him, we envisioned Fielder abusing Globe Life Park’s short porch in right field and jet-stream winds with 40, maybe even 50 homers. Because of last season’s neck surgery and Father Time – he’s 31 – that isn’t going to happen. In 181 games with Texas, he has 22 homers. He hit 50 with the Brewers in ’07, 46 in ’09 and 30 with the Tigers as recently as 2012.
But his homers are still a sight to see. He swings with the ferocity of a noble warrior beheading the dragon.
Fielder won’t hit many more homers this season. And he might not hit one more important.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.