Josh Hamilton is Roy Hobbs
The Rangers slugger might as well be 'The Natural' this week
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers shot off fireworks after Friday's game. The way Josh Hamilton is hitting, it's a wonder they didn't explode from the light towers during the game like they did for Roy Hobbs at the end of "The Natural."
Hamilton continued one of the great weeks in recent memory with two more home runs when the Rangers and Angels met for the first time his season on Friday night. Hamilton homered to right in the second inning and again in the fourth, giving him eight this week. He was walked intentionally with first base open in the fifth and had an infield single in the first. He grounded out in his final at-bat.
The performance gives Hamilton a four-homer game, a two-homer game and two single-homer games this week, with two days left for a three-homer game that would give him the home run cycle.
Hamilton is hitting .407, one point higher than Ted Williams did in 1941, with a 1.336 OPS. He leads the majors in home runs (17) and RBIs (40).
"He's as locked in as any batter can be right now," Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said.
Hamilton's bat is marked for Cooperstown -- literally so, with a stamp on it. But Hamilton isn't giving up the bat yet.
"They swiped my hat and my jersey, but I'm still using the bat I hit the balls with," Hamilton said before the game. "They put a sticker on my bat, so it's kind of weird. It's almost like saying this one is done, use the next one. But I'm not giving this one up. Not until it breaks, man."
And why would he? Roy Hobbs didn't give up Wonderboy until it splintered in half.
After his second home run Friday, the Rangers' video board showed him standing in left field. The fans began to cheer and then began to stand in a loud and loving tribute that left Hamilton both visibly pleased and a little overwhelmed.
"That was cool, man," Hamilton told reporters. "You don't know what to do in that instance. It's in the middle of the game. I appreciate the fans."
Due to the late finish to the game, because of a two-hour rain delay, and a noon start Saturday, Hamilton spoke only briefly to reporters, saying he needed to beat the fireworks traffic to get home for a decent night's sleep before returning to the ballpark.
Hamilton is the third player to hit 17 home runs in his team's first 33 games, joining Cy Williams (1923) and Frank Howard (1968). Howard did that for the Washington Senators, who moved to Texas in 1972, which means that despite his amazing week, he hasn't even surpassed the team mark yet.
But hey, he still has two days left in the week. We'll see if Glenn Close stands up in the middle of either game.