BALTIMORE (AP) — Much to their dismay, the Baltimore Orioles once again found themselves on the wrong side of a history-making performance by the Texas Rangers.
Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game, hitting a quartet of two-run shots off three different Baltimore pitchers to lead the Rangers to a 10-3 win Tuesday night.
Hamilton hit the first two off Jake Arrieta, another off Zach Phillips and the final one in the eighth inning against Darren
“It was the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that. Very special hitter,” Arrieta said. “He didn’t miss tonight. You got
to tip your cap to him but we got to do a better job — me especially — making better pitches early in the count to him.”
In his final at-bat, Hamilton took a mighty swing and missed, then fouled one off before launching a shot to center on an 0-2 pitch from O’Day.
“Me personally, I can say that was the worst pitch of my life,” O’Day said. “Worst pitch of my career, not of my life. Guy’s already got three bombs and I had him 0-2 and I throw it right over the middle. I couldn’t have soft-tossed it any better to him. I’d like that pitch back for sure. You can’t say enough about the day he had.”
There’s something about playing the Orioles that brings out the best in the Rangers. In August 2007, Texas set a modern-day scoring record in a 30-3 rout at Camden Yards.
This one had more of an individual flair to it. Hamilton doubled in his other at-bat, giving him an American League-record 18 total bases in one game. His eight RBIs were a career high.
The last player to hit four home runs in a game was Carlos Delgado on Sept. 25, 2003, for Toronto against Tampa Bay. Two of the 16 players to hit four homers in a game did it before 1900.
“Obviously it’s, other than being in the World Series, the highlight of my big-league career,” Hamilton said. “I was saying
after I hit two I’ve never hit three in a game before, and what a blessing that was. Then to hit four is just an awesome feeling, to see how excited my teammates got.
“It reminds you of when you’re in Little League and a little kid, and just the excitement and why we play the game. Things like that. You never know what can happen. It was just an absolute blessing.”
Hamilton is the sixth AL slugger to perform the feat. The last player to hit four homers in a game against the Orioles was Rocky Colavito in 1959, at old Memorial Stadium.
Hamilton, who is in the final year of his contract and could become a free agent after this season, leads the AL with 14 homers and 36 RBIs, and his 5-for-5 effort raised his batting average to .406.
He set the Texas single-game club record with five extra-base hits, breaking the mark of four held by eight players. Hamilton has homered in five of his last six at-bats, counting his final trip to the plate Monday night.
Andrian Beltre also homered for the Rangers. Coming off a 14-3 win in the series opener, Texas has won two straight for the first time since April 24-25 and are 20-10, their best-ever record after 30 games.
Dating back to last season, Texas has won seven in a row over Baltimore by a combined 70-18 score.
Rangers starter Neftali Feliz (2-1) gave up one run on four hits and had a career-high eight strikeouts. Converted to starter after notching 72 saves over the previous two seasons, Feliz had a 2-0 lead to protect before throwing his first pitch and maintained the advantage — just like when he was closer.
The Orioles entered the series with the best record in the majors after a 5-1 trip through Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, but they have looked more like a team with 14 straight losing seasons in these two games against the two-time defending AL champions.
Arrieta (2-3) allowed six runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He yielded a career-high three homers, matching the total he surrendered in his first six starts this season.
J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis hit consecutive solo homers for Baltimore in the eighth, long after the outcome had been decided.
The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Elvis Andrus drew a one-out walk and Hamilton hit Arrieta’s next pitch over the center-field wall.
It was more of the same in the third, and then some. After Andrus reached on a chopper off the plate, Hamilton lined an
opposite-field drive into the left-field seats. Beltre followed with this sixth home run, the fourth time in 30 games that Texas has homered in successive at-bats.
Andrus singled in the seventh before Hamilton sent a drive over the center-field wall against Phillips, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game.
After that, the only suspense was whether Hamilton would get another at-bat. He did, and made it count.
NOTES: Andrus has reached base in 26 straight games. He is 16 for 33 on the road trip. … Despite Baltimore’s surprising start, the game drew a meager crowd of 11,263. Baltimore’s Chris Davis singled in the eighth to snap an 0-for-14 skid.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)