What a blast of a game. Rangers fans were treated to a historic performance by Hamilton, a great performance by the rest of the lineup, and a terrific start out of the newest member of the Rangers rotation, Neftali Feliz. The Rangers look like they’re building some momentum after what was a slow stretch. Even though they’re doing it against the Orioles, a franchise that has recently been known mostly for its futility, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they currently sit atop the AL East, baseball’s most feared division.
Here are some notes:
1. Josh Hamilton – Words fail. Four homes runs and a double. It wasn’t just Jake Arrietta, the Orioles’ starting pitcher, having a meltdown; Hamilton also homered of Darren O’Day, a former teammate, and Zach Phillips, an Orioles reliever. I suggest you look at the replays, because they’re all beautiful, powerful shots. For some perspective, Josh Hamilton set a record for total bases in American League history with 18. He currently leads the league in wOBA and wRC+.
2. Neftali Feliz – Terrific bounceback performance. Through 6 innings, he allowed just four hits and two walks, giving up just one run in the process. He also had 8 strikeouts, seven of which were on swinging strikes. Neftali showed an excellent ability to miss bats with his pitches, something that had been missing from his last few starts.
3. Lost amidst the celebration is the poor performance of Robbie Ross. Its possible he wasn’t able to keep his head in the game amidst all the good feeling in the clubhouse, which is understandable in a rookie. Nevertheless, Robbie’s inning was out of control, allowing two straight home runs, then three straight ground balls (he was able to make the adjustment to prevent fly balls, at least), two of which went for singles, before he finally managed to induce a GIDP and end the inning. Even though these weren’t high-leverage innings, I’m worried that Ross is either overworked or burnt out; on the other hand, maybe I’m reading too much into an ultimately meaningless inning.
4. Lest we forget, Elvis Andrus was on base all four times Hamilton unleashed a blast. Elvis has been hot recently, and in this particular game it really paid off. The way Elvis Andrus has played this season, and to a certain extent towards the end of last season, shows the emergence of a latent power stroke, not unusual in players his age (he is 23). Adding power to his game could turn Andrus into a league-leading shortstop, not just hanging around in the top 5 or top 10 like he has been these past couple seasons.
Another great all-around performance. So great, in fact, that I will be headed to Camden Yards to watch the show in person, either Wednesday or Thursday. I can’t wait for what tomorrow may bring.