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Wash: Rangers looking to jump on Josh Hamilton's back

ARLINGTON, Texas – Josh Hamilton was the best player in baseball for stretches of this season.

But Hamilton was absolutely awful down the stretch, as the Rangers let their AL West lead slip away by losing seven of the last nine games. Hamilton had no homers, no walks and 17 strikeouts during that stretch, when he hit .256. Worse, his effort was questioned when he whiffed on a routine pop fly and jogged after the ball on the play that gave the A’s the lead for good in the de facto AL West title game.

Which Hamilton will show up during the postseason? That could determine whether the Rangers make another World Series run or if they even get out of the blocks.

“We’re certainly looking tonight to jump on his back and take a ride,” manager Ron Washington said, expressing confidence that Hamilton will perform like the MVP candidate who finished the regular season with 43 homers and 128 RBIs.

Washington added that there are a lot of guys in his lineup capable of carrying the Rangers.

You can’t question that Hamilton has that kind of talent. However, how can anyone be confident he’ll have the proper focus for the postseason after watching Hamilton the last couple of weeks?

“Well, I think his talent mainly more than anything else,” Washington said. “As far as focus goes, we all know what’s at stake here, and the past couple of years, the success we’ve had, Hamilton has been a big part of it. The success that we’ve had this year, Hamilton has been a big part of it. So there’s no reason for me to think otherwise that Hamilton isn’t going to show up tonight and be there for us now. …

“He can take a ballgame over, and you never know what day that is going to be. I’m a very optimistic guy, and I believe that today is the day that we can jump on Hamilton’s back.”