Last time we saw Josh Hamilton in a Rangers’ uniform it wasn’t pretty.
After consecutive World Series appearances in 2010-11, Texas was relegated to a play-in game in 2012. Hosting the Orioles in Arlington, the Rangers needed some offensive punch from their star slugger.
But what they got instead on Oct. 5, 2012 was an ugly, indifferent 0-for-4 night in which Hamilton failed to get the ball out of the infield, hit into a double-play and struck out twice, including three consecutive hapless swings and misses in the bottom of the 8th with his team trailing, 3-1.
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Hamilton was booed after that at-bat, the Rangers lost 5-1 and the following winter he high-tailed it to the Angels.
Even though his first time in the batter’s box in three years for Texas looked eerily familiar – a four-pitch strikeout in the 1st inning – this go-round promises to be different, if not better.
After a couple of underwhelming seasons in Anaheim, a self-reported alcohol relapse and shoulder surgery, Hamilton was back in the Rangers’ lineup in Cleveland. He was hitless in three at-bats, but did walk and scored a run in Texas’ sixth straight win, this one 10-8 over the Indians.
Hamilton admitted to some jitters.
“It was good to get the first at-bat out of the way, I was a little nervous up there," Hamilton said. “After that, second at-bat I was feeling pretty good. It was just good to be out there. It was good to feel the energy in the dugout.”
Now 34 and no longer counted on to be the main cog in Texas’ offensive machine, he’ll hit 5th in a lineup suddenly smoking thanks to the hot bats of Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre.
Hamilton misjudged a sharply hit ball in left field early and came up in an 8-8 game late. In the 7th he tapped weakly to the pitcher, but Zach McAllister committed a throwing error, allowing Hamilton to reach safely and Fielder to score the go-ahead run.
There will certainly be better days for Hamilton.
We’re just holding our breath that there aren’t much worse.
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.