Josh Hamilton started in left field against a left-handed pitcher Thursday night, made a remarkable catch in the second inning and had a double and a sacrifice fly in the Texas Rangers’ 5-3 victory.
The win guaranteed no worse than the second wild card for the Rangers next week in the postseason and reduced their magic number for clinching the American League West to one game.
The win also eliminated the Los Angeles Angels from West contention. Those are the same Angels who all but gave Hamilton to the Rangers in April after growing weary of his injuries and also getting miffed rather than compassionate after his February relapse with drugs.
But Hamilton didn’t get any extra thrill from putting the dagger into the Angels.
1 Rangers’ magic number to clinch the American League West. They can accomplish that with one win in their final three games or one Houston loss.
“It’s not anything different than if it was any different team,” Hamilton said. “Like I’ve said before, I appreciated my time when I was there and I had some good teammates and kept in touch with them and even some of the coaches over there.
“I don’t want them to do bad. I don’t wish them to do bad or anything like that. The fact it was them, is just how it worked out. Just looking around baseball and looking at everything that’s going on and how close everything is, like, who makes the schedule? Really? This worked out like this this year?”
Hamilton’s catch limited the Angels to only one run in the second inning, and he nearly threw out the ailing Albert Pujols at home as he tagged from third base. Hamilton raced back on the Shane Victorino drive, caught the ball over his shoulder, then fell to the ground and into the wall.
David Freese was at first base and might have scored if Hamilton hadn’t made the catch. At the very least, he’s at third base with one out.
Big catch, big play in the game. Freeser was on first. If he missed that and it hits off the wall, maybe he has a chance to score. But it is what it is.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout on Josh Hamilton’s catch in the second inning
“It hurt, but it’s fine,” Hamilton said. “The surprising part was I didn’t think he hit it that well. I was more excited about getting up and throwing it in and having a close play at home.”
Josh Hamilton’s second-inning double was his first extra-base hit a home run Aug. 14. He added an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the seventh, also his first since Aug. 14.
Hamilton doubled in the second but was stranding. In the seventh with the score 5-4, though, he launched a flyball to center field that was deep enough for Adrian Beltre to trot home from third for a key insurance run.