Editor's Note: Before we shift our complete focus to the 2013 season, let's take a quick look back at 10 memorable moments -- games, signings, events -- from the 2012 campaign. By memorable, we mean both good and bad moments. And we've now reached our top-5.
Memorable Moment No. 5: Josh Hamilton belts four home runs in Baltimore on May 8.
Before the game ever started, Josh Hamilton was in the middle of one of the best streaks of his career. He had just been named AL player of the month for April after hitting .395 with nine homers and 25 RBIs. He was hittng the ball all over the place and making opposing pitchers cringe.
That was the Hamilton that stepped to the plate in the first inning on May 8 and began a historic evening. He hit four home runs -- all of them two-run shots with Elvis Andrus on base in front of him. The first two came off TCU product Jake Arrieta, who gave up homers in the first and third innings. In the seventh, Hamilton went deep off Zach Phillips, and in the ninth former Ranger Darren O'Day served up the final home run. The performance earned Hamilton a standing ovation from the Orioles crowd.
It was the 16th four-homer game in major league history and the sixth in the AL (first since Carlos Delgado did it for Toronto against Tampa Bay on Sept. 23, 2003). He was just the third player to hit four homers all with at least one man on base.
"Obviously it's, other than being in the World Series, the highlight of my big league career," Hamilton said after the game.
Hamilton added a double to go 5-for-5, becoming the third player in big league history with at least 18 total bases in one game. That's the most in the AL and second-most in MLB history to Shawn Green's 19 for the Dodgers in 2002. Hamilton's performance set club records for homers, total bases and extra-base hits in a game. He was the fifth Ranger with as many as eight RBIs in a game, one shy of the record set by Pudge Rodriguez on April 13, 1999 at Seattle.
Since he homered in his final at-bat the night before, Hamilton had six extra-base hits in six plate appearances, the first player to do that since Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. on July 1-2, 1998.
As an aside, May 8 was a fun night to witness in person. After Hamilton hit the third home run, you just had a feeling he could get the fourth. The dugout went absolutely crazy when he did it and Hamilton didn't even realize afterward what a big deal it really was to do that. It's essentially the equivalent of perfect game thrown by a pitcher, if you note how rare it is to hit a four-homer game. For a hitter, that's a ridiculous effort.
So it's not a surprise that it makes our top-5 memorable moments for the season.