Hamilton on torrid pace after hitting 18th homer
Rangers slugger has gone deep nine times in past six games
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton struck out three times Saturday, but he still had one more home run in him.Hamilton hit his 18th home run of the season against the Angels -- a game-tying shot to right field in the sixth inning of the Rangers' 4-2 loss -- and his ninth in six games. He became the second player in Major League history to hit 18 home runs in his team's first 34 games, joining Cy Williams of the 1923 Phillies. Hamilton, a .402 hitter who leads the American League in virtually every major offensive category, claims to be as locked in as he's ever been. "As far as results go, yeah," Hamilton said. "It's been a good week. I'm thanking God for it. I'm trying to stay out of the way and think as little as possible and ride it while it's going." C.J. Wilson, Hamilton's former teammate, struck him out swinging in each of his first two at-bats. But Hamilton, with one out in the sixth inning and the Rangers trailing the Angels, 2-1, sent a 2-2 pitch from Wilson just over the right-field wall to tie the game. The Angels went on to score twice in the next inning to secure the victory, but Hamilton, after hitting his league-leading 18th home run, is on pace to hit 86 this year. "I don't think anyone hitting a home run on our team ever gets old," said Ian Kinsler. "I don't think anyone expects a guy to hit that many home runs in that time period, but he's a really good player. We expect him to do something to help us win, just like everyone else in the clubhouse. He's doing his part right now. Hamilton is still using the same bat he hit four home runs with in the Rangers' 10-3 win over Baltimore on Tuesday. A sticker distinguishes it from his other bats, and Hamilton said that he plans to use it until it breaks. "I'm just hoping I don't throw it in the stands," Hamilton said. Hamilton faced Wilson just once Friday night before the rain delay, getting an infield hit and sliding headfirst into first base. Ron Washington says he cringes when Hamilton slides headfirst on his way to first base but admires his ability to make things happen at the plate. "He's not missing right now," Washington said. "Each time Josh walks into that box, you expect something to happen." Hamilton doesn't plan to change the way he plays anytime soon. "He knows how I play the game and he's always told me to play it the way I know how to play it," said Hamilton. "Have you ever noticed the way he jumps when we swing? He's just wired up." Wilson returned to start Saturday's game for the Angels after facing only five batters Friday night because of a nearly two-hour long rain delay. Hamilton had some trouble against Wilson early in the game, unable to check his swing on a third strike in the first inning and whiffing on a Wilson fastball to strike out again in the fourth. "He's one of those guys where you don't know what he's going to throw. He really doesn't follow any kind of pattern," Hamilton said. "As the game went on, I felt like I was getting to the point where I was early enough and calm enough. I was waiting on it, instead of going out to get it." In his fourth plate appearance against Wilson over the past two days, Hamilton finally got the better of the former Rangers ace. "Pitchers make mistakes sometimes, and when they do, you've got to take advantage of them."
Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.