Angels’ right fielder Josh Hamilton finds his swing again
ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Hamilton didn’t exactly silence the hostile Ballpark in Arlington crowd Sunday night, but the Angels right fielder finally made a little noise with his bat, ripping a double to right field in the third inning and hitting singles in the fifth and seventh.
Hamilton, the former Rangers slugger who was booed mercilessly in his former home park, entered with a .050 average (one for 20) and 10 strikeouts but returned home with a slightly more respectable .160 mark.
“My swing felt good,” Hamilton said. “My second or third round of batting practice I felt something good and kind of fixed myself. It was a little mechanical thing. I needed to coil up like I’m supposed to.”
Hamilton has looked anxious, swinging at just about everything, including the first two pitches he saw from Yu Darvish after the Angels loaded the bases with none out in the first inning Sunday.
Darvish walked Mike Trout to open the game, hit Erick Aybar with a pitch and walked Albert Pujols, but Hamilton didn’t think he let Darvish off the hook.
He got a good rip at a first-pitch fastball, fouling it off, and he grounded sharply to the right of second baseman Ian Kinsler, who made a nice stab to start a double play. Trout scored, and Mark Trumbo followed with a run-scoring single, but the Angels scored only two runs in the inning.
Asked if he should have been more patient in the at-bat, Hamilton said, “Absolutely not. He doesn’t want to walk me. He doesn’t want to fall behind. I took a good hack at the first pitch and just missed it, but that let me know that what I worked on earlier in the day was right on time.”
Though Pujols said he felt good enough to play first base Sunday, Manager Mike Scioscia started the slugger, who has been slowed by soreness in his left foot, at designated hitter for the second straight game.
“His foot has started to bother him a bit, and we want to stay on top of it as much as we can,” Scioscia said. “We’re a better team with him at first, but with the off day Monday, we’re trying to look at the bigger picture.”
Pujols, 33, doesn’t like to DH, but after undergoing right knee surgery in October and dealing with the foot problem this spring, he’s more accepting of it.
“The most important thing is being in the lineup,” Pujols said. “It doesn’t hurt to get a day here and there as the DH.”
Pujols looked a little better running Sunday, and replays showed he beat out a double-play grounder in the fifth.
The call was costly, as Hamilton followed with a single and Trumbo hit a run-scoring double to trim the Rangers’ lead to 4-3. Had Pujols been aboard, the score would have been tied.
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