Texas Rangers: Jordan Norberto

Tip pays off for Josh Hamilton

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
9:30
AM CT
OAKLAND, Calif. -- After Josh Hamilton struck out in his first two at-bats Tuesday night, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh gave his star pupil a little tip. Coolbaugh said Hamilton was getting going a little too early at the plate. He needed to slow down.

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Although Hamilton still struck out in his next at-bat, the tip clicked after that. Hamilton hit an opposite-field homer in the eighth and a rocket to right field for a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

After the Rangers’ 6-1 victory over the A’s, Hamilton said it’s not uncommon for him to have to slow himself down at the plate.

“It’s something I have to watch from time to time, even when I’m doing well,” he said. “I might get a couple hits and then next at-bat start too early. It’s just a visual thing. I have to focus on doing it every at-bat, every pitch.”

Hamilton said it helped that he was facing a lefty, Jordan Norberto, who he expected to throw a slider.

“I was looking slider,” Hamilton said, “and it slowed me down enough to make a good swing on the fastball, not pull off it and stay through.”

Hamilton’s 28th homer got his average back to .300 after the third-inning strikeout had dropped it below that threshold for the first time since he was 0-for-1 on opening day. His average had been plummeting with a .220 slump over his previous 46 games.

Hamilton insisted he didn’t notice the batting average on the scoreboard.

“I haven’t paid attention,” he said. “I know it’s going down the last month, month and a half. I know it’s going to end up where I’m supposed to end up. I will get hot here a couple times. I’m not really panicking.”

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, A's 1

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
11:49
PM CT


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Roy Oswalt pitched his best game in a Texas Rangers uniform, allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

What it means: The Rangers kept pace with the Angels and the Yankees, who both won. The Rangers remain 5 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West, meaning no matter what happens they will be in first place when they finish their series this weekend in Anaheim. The Rangers remain one game behind the Yankees in the race for the best record in the American League.

Oswalt’s game: Oswalt had little trouble with an A’s team that had hit nine homers and scored 24 runs in its previous three games. Through six innings, Oswalt had allowed just two hits, both to Yoenis Cespedes. In the seventh, he gave up a solo homer to Josh Reddick. He then struck out Cespedes before manager Ron Washington turned the game over to the bullpen.

Oswalt left after 103 pitches, including 72 strikes. He did not walk a batter for the first time in his five starts with the Rangers. He struck out six.

Gentry’s wheels: Craig Gentry made some big contributions with his speed in the first few innings. He saved a run in the bottom of the second when he raced in and made a diving catch of a Kurt Suzuki blooper. He followed that in the top of the third by bunting for a hit when he beat pitcher Bartolo Colon to the bag. Colon then made an errant pickoff throw. As the ball shot into the vast foul territory in Oakland, Gentry went all the way to third. He scored on Elvis Andrus’ single. In the fourth, he was called on to execute a suicide squeeze and he beat the play at first for a hit.

Beltre swings a hot bat: Adrian Beltre homered in the fourth inning, a solo shot that put the Rangers up 2-0. Beltre is hitting .394 over his last 27 games.

Hamilton snaps out briefly: Josh Hamilton struck out in his first three at-bats, running his slump to 2-for-26. In his fourth trip, against left-hander Jordan Norberto, Hamilton launched a homer to left field. It was Hamilton’s 28th homer of the season, tying Adam Dunn for the league lead. He added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Ogando returns: Alexi Ogando, fresh off the disabled list, got into the game in the seventh inning with a three-run lead and a runner at first. Ogando, who had been out with a groin injury, walked the first batter he faced but then he got Suzuki and Brandon Inge on pop-ups to escape the jam.

Finally hitting Colon: The Rangers scored four runs against Colon, which was a welcome change. They managed just five hits and no runs in eight innings against Colon when they faced him in Oakland last month. Colon came into the game 18-6 with a 3.61 ERA against Texas, although most of those numbers were racked up when Colon was younger before he missed a couple years with shoulder problems.

Oops: Michael Young failed to score from third on a ground ball to second in the fourth, apparently a bad decision or a bad read on the ball. It didn't hurt the Rangers because Mike Napoli followed with an RBI single.

Up Next: Colby Lewis vs. Travis Blackley at 2:37 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW. It’s the final game of the quick two-game series.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Rangers manager Ron Washington didn’t hesitate for a second before pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland. Didn’t second-guess it after the fact, either.

“Not at all,” Washington said after the Rangers wrapped up their disappointing homestand with a 5-4 loss to the Oakland A’s in 10 innings. “Not at all.”

The decision to pull Moreland for Brandon Snyder with the go-ahead run on second base in the bottom of the seventh inning was purely a by-the-numbers call. Oakland brought in southpaw Jordan Norberto from the bullpen, so Washington went with the right-handed bat off the bench.

Never mind that Moreland had homered off righty starter Brandon McCarty in his previous two at-bats. That wasn’t a factor in Washington’s mind.

Why not?

“Have you been watching many ballgames? Well, there’s your answer,” Washington said tersely. “With Moreland facing lefties, what does it look like?”

Moreland’s precious few opportunities against lefties usually haven’t been pretty. He’s 3-for-16 with a solo homer against southpaws this season. In his career, Moreland has a .224 average and two homers in 147 at-bats against lefties.

“That’s that,” Washington said.

Snyder was 8-for-22 with three homers and seven RBIs against lefties this season when Washington told him to grab a bat. He’s 8-for-23 after hitting a routine fly ball to center field to end the inning.

Under normal circumstances, this was a no-brainer decision. But these weren’t normal circumstances, as Moreland had powered balls over the fences in left and right field in his previous two trips to the plate, recording the fourth two-homer game of his career.

That continued a stellar stretch for Moreland, whose early-season slump is a distant memory now. He is 21-for-56 (.375) with four doubles and five homers in his last 18 games. But Moreland can’t earn the manager’s trust to face lefties in critical situations by hitting righties hard.

Washington isn’t ready to publicly declare the 26-year-old Moreland purely a platoon player, but his decision during the seventh inning Thursday sent a pretty strong message.

“I want to get as many at-bats as I can,” Moreland said. “I always want to play. That’s just the way it goes.

“He’s the manager. He makes the decisions.”

This decision came back to bite the Rangers, whether Washington wants to admit it or not.

Snyder batted again with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, weakly grounding out to first base off of right-hander Ryan Cook. Would Moreland have fared better? We’ll never know, but the numbers would have favored him.

In the top of the 10th, a diving Snyder couldn’t stop Daric Barton’s ground ball from rolling into right field for a single that moved the winning run to third base. Would Moreland have fielded the ball? We’ll never know, but he’s a superior fielder and the ball was to his glove side, while Snyder had to try to backhand it.

But Washington’s decision was based on trying to win the game in the seventh inning. He trusted Snyder in that situation, not Moreland.

And, as far as the manager is concerned, it doesn't matter what kind of day Moreland was having up until that point.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
10 3.06 182 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .326
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 67
RA. Beltre 66
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182