Friday, September 30, 2011
Manager preferred Josh Hamilton to swing
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton saw the heavy shift on and figured he'd try to drum up any kind of rally with his struggling team trailing the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-0, in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the ALDS.
With Elvis Andrus on first, Hamilton tried to duplicate the surprise bunt hit Rays cleanup hitter Ben Zobrist laid down during Tampa Bay's three-run third inning. Only Hamilton couldn't get the ball down the third-base line as Zobrist did and tapped it back to the pitcher for an easy out at first.
Josh Hamilton tried bunting for a hit with the Rangers down by eight runs in the sixth inning.
It was Hamilton's call all the way to lay down the bunt. Manager Ron Washington said he understood but would have preferred to see Hamilton swing the bat.
"I like his thinking, but right there you like to see him swing the bat," Washington said following Tampa's 9-0 trouncing. "If he would have got the bunt down we would have had runners on first and second with Mike [Young] coming up. You never know what may have happened."
What did happen was Andrus moved over to second base on the bunt -- first ruled a sacrifice and then properly changed -- but Rays rookie starter Matt Moore got Young to ground out to third and Adrian Beltre to fly out to left to end the inning.
Hamilton had both of the Rangers' only hits in the game, a sharply hit single in the first and a double in the fourth.
By the time he got up again in the sixth for the first time with a runner on, the Rangers were down 8-0 and Hamilton hoped to put two men on base for the first time in the game.
"I was trying to get something going. I had swung the bat well the first couple of at-bats. It’s 8-0. They give me that bunt all the time," Hamilton said. "It was set up perfectly for me. I just bunted it back to him [Moore] instead of third base like I was trying to do. I just wanted to get some momentum going and not stop it with Michael coming up and have guys on base. That was the thought behind it."
The Rays were not disappointed to see Hamilton try to bunt his way on.
"They definitely needed to get something going, but we'd much rather have him do that than swing the bat," Johnny Damon said. "But, how our defense is against them it could have been an easy hit for him. But, he was just trying to get his team going because they do have some very potent bats in that lineup."