Hamilton's 8th-inning HR caps rally; Rangers sweep Twins

Posted Sunday, Apr. 15, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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MINNEAPOLIS — Of the few disservices Josh Hamilton does to himself on the baseball field, not watching his home runs, not even for a second, might top the list.

He’s cheating himself of some pretty spectacular views, though opposing pitchers probably appreciate that Hamilton isn’t showing them up with a long gaze and a slow trot out of the batter’s box.

Instead, Hamilton relies on feel of the ball coming off the bat and the sound the contact makes to tell him that he’s just gone deep.

“And I usually hear Wash say, ‘Yes,’ ” Hamilton said.

He heard the familiar dugout cheer from manager Ron Washington in the eighth inning Sunday after delivering a mammoth two-run homer that gave the Rangers a 4-3 victory over Minnesota.

The Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Twins in a ballpark where they had only won once in 10 tries entering the series. But not even Target Field’s cavernous right-center field could hold back Hamilton and the red-hot Rangers.

“We played some good baseball,” Washington said. “We pitched, we played some good defense, we ran the bases and we delivered the big hits when we needed them. Everything fell into place for us.”

Things, though, had fallen into place for the Twins through six innings. Clete Thomas had also homered to right-center field, in the fifth off Neftali Feliz, and helped throw out Adrian Beltre at home to end the sixth and preserve a 2-1 lead.

The Twins added a run in their half of the sixth as the first three hitters reached against Feliz, who exited at 93 pitches in his second big-league start.

But Robbie Ross snuffed out the threat, and worked a scoreless seventh inning to set the stage for the Rangers’ comeback.

It started with a walk to Ian Kinsler, who would score on a triple by Elvis Andrus that sailed over Thomas’ head in right field.

Hamilton hit the next pitch from Glen Perkins an estimated 449 feet.

“There are spurts when I’ve felt really good,” said Hamilton, who is hitting .390 with four homers in 10 games this season. “I’m just trying to figure it out.”

Mike Adams and Joe Nathan worked a scoreless inning apiece to give the Rangers their first road sweep of the Twins since 1997. Their work made a winner of Ross for a second straight day, the first two wins of his career.

“Pretty weird,” said the left-hander, who retired Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham and Chris Parmelee to escape the sixth-inning jam.

“We’ve got an unbelievable team that can hit and get runs whenever they want to.”

Mike Napoli started the scoring with a solo homer in the fifth, and Michael Young went 3 for 4. The Rangers’ offense still hasn’t found its traction, but it’s doing just enough to back a pitching staff that has a 2.30 ERA.

Feliz opened with four scoreless innings and had two outs in the fifth before hanging a changeup to Thomas, who had been claimed off waivers Saturday.

Feliz has registered quality starts in both of his starts, and the Rangers have won both games en route to an American League-best 8-2 record.

“The first thing I liked is that we won,” Feliz said. “I felt good throughout the game. I made a couple pitches I didn’t like, but I kept my head up.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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