ARLINGTON, Texas -- If there was one bright spot in the Texas Rangers' 15-8 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, it was that the offense found its stride again for the first time in six games to score eight runs on 12 hits. Granted, it is incredibly ironic that an offensive effort that would be plenty to win most games came when the opponents scored 15 runs on 16 hits and four home runs.
Nevermind that, the Rangers' offensive performance, especially that of Josh Hamilton is not one to be scoffed at.
Hamilton had a breakout game in every sense. He went 3-for-4 with a double, a solo-home run and two runs scored. He fell a triple shy of a cycle in his first multi-hit game since July 4, ending a drought of 17 games.
"It's good for confidence," Hamilton said. "I was looking at a little video and you know how in the game they flip up little facts or whatever? Apparently, it was the first time I’d had three hits since May 11. So that was pretty interesting. I can’t remember the last time I had a multi-hit game. So it’s good."
To say that Hamilton has been in a slump would be an understatement. He entered Monday's game batting .115 in his last 17 games. His three-hit game ended a career-long 61 game streak with two or fewer hits in a game. It was also his first game with multiple extra-base hits since he hit two doubles against the Seattle Mariners on May 30. Oddly enough, his last three-hit game that he referenced on May 11 was against the Los Angeles Angels.
“You have to understand if you’re an athlete, it comes in cycles," Hamilton said. "You’re going to be good sometimes, suck sometimes and just be average other times. The difference between the really good ones and the average ones is understanding what you do wrong, fixing it and not staying in those slumps for a long time.”
Unfortunately, Hamilton has struggled for a long time. His monthly batting averages have continued to decline all season, starting at .395 in April, .344 in May, .223 in June and now .141 in the month of July.
It would appear the turning point came after Hamilton was booed by Rangers fans when he went 0-for-4 and struck out twice on six pitches in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. The next game, Hamilton was benched before making an appearance in the series finally against Chicago at DH in the five-hole. He went 0-for-2 in that game, but finally showed some patience at the plate, earning two walks. Now with a three-hit game behind him, his teammates have taken notice of the change.
"I saw some really good swings from him. It was really encouraging," David Murphy said, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. "He’s obviously a key part of our offense and if we can get him going, the offense will definitely start rolling along a little bit better. He’s working hard in the cage. He’s done a lot of different things over the past few weeks and a player of his talent, you just can’t keep him down for very long.”
"I’m just going back out there and having fun," Hamilton said.
Whether it was the day off, batting in the five-hole, more work in the cages or all of the above, it would appear something has clicked. Ron Washington has said that he plans to keep Hamilton in the five-hole until he feels like he is playing at a high level consistently again. Whatever happens, the Rangers have to make sure that Hamilton gets back to playing up to his potential and on a game-to-game basis. Otherwise, they could be in deep trouble down the stretch.