Saturday, July 9, 2011
Tragedy still weighing on Hamilton's mind
By Randy Jennings
ARLINGTON, Texas -- With one swing, Josh Hamilton turned what looked to be a Rangers loss into victory.
But a half hour after Hamilton’s two-out, two-run walk-off homer settled into the right-field porch at Rangers Ballpark to give Texas a 7-6 victory over Oakland, Hamilton said he is still grieving about the death of Shannon Stone on Thursday. Stone fell over the railing of the stands in left field stretching to get a foul ball that Hamilton tossed his way.
“I’m still thinking about him,’’ a reserved Hamilton said in the clubhouse. “And I’m thinking about his survivors.
“The last few days have been one extreme to the other.’’
Hamilton's dramatics helped the Rangers stretch their winning streak to six.
Protecting a 6-5 lead, Oakland closer Andrew Bailey retired Endy Chavez and Ian Kinsler on routine outs before Elvis Andrus kept the Rangers’ ninth inning alive by legging out an infield single.
“When you’re down by only one and you’ve got a big boy coming up, especially with the way he’s been hitting …,’’ Andrus said.
Hamilton came to the plate with three hits in four at-bats, including doubles in the first and third. Even his out was productive. He drove in a run with a groundout in the fifth.
With a 2-0 count, Hamilton said he was looking for one pitch in one zone.
“I barreled up the ball pretty well,’’ Hamilton said. “I didn’t try to hit it out of the stadium or anything.’’
Yet his 11th home run of the season was measured at 435 feet.
About the only visible reaction he allowed himself was a fist pump rounding first.
Nelson Cruz, in the next locker, noticed that fist pump, too, and laughed.
It had been three years to the day since Hamilton’s last walk-off home run beat the Angels in 2008.
It also had been more than a year since the Rangers overcame a deficit with two outs in the ninth inning, that coming in a win over Florida on a pinch-hit, two-run triple by Matt Treanor on June 15, 2010.
Said Hamilton: “Even if we’re down the whole game, we have the team that can turn it around at any minute.’’