ARLINGTON — Popular singer Adele says in a well-circulated song that she set fire to the rain.
It would have been fitting if she could have sung the national anthem before the Texas Rangers’ game Friday night.
Josh Hamilton hit two more homers, giving him eight in his last 18 at-bats, and Yu Darvish pitched solidly around a near two-hour rain delay as the Rangers remained red-hot in a 10-3 victory over the Angels.
Hamilton said Friday that under normal circumstances he would have by Friday changed the bat he used to hit four home runs in Tuesday’s game at Baltimore.
“They put a sticker on the end of my bat, kind of saying that this one’s done. But I’m still using it. Until it breaks.”
That is sound thinking, as Hamilton became just the third player in Major League history to hit 17 home runs in his team’s first 33 games. And he’s actually played in only 30 of them.
“When you play the game, you want to slow it down as much as you possibly can,” said Hamilton, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and is now batting a healthy .407. “It’s fast. When you do things not quite the right way, it makes it faster, so you’re not able to do what you want to do as a player. There’s nights where things slow down and you see the ball well and you put good swings on them.”
“He’s as locked in as I’ve ever seen him,” teammate Mitch Moreland said. “He’s done some pretty unbelievable stuff on the field and it just continues. Hopefully, he can keep it going. It’s good to have that guy in the middle of your lineup.”
While Hamilton was leading the offensive punch, Yu Darvish was pitching admirably to earn his fifth victory. He allowed three runs and struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings. He’d pitched only a third of an inning before the rain sent everybody in with the Rangers at bat in the bottom of the first.
“I expected to stay in the game,” Darvish said. “No matter how long the delay was, I expected to keep myself ready to pitch. Mentally, I was focused all the time.”
“He wanted the ball,” manager Ron Washington said. “He kept coming to me during the rain delay saying, ‘Skip, I can pitch. Skip, I can pitch.’
“The kid is a winner.”
A winner he is, indeed, as he moved to 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA. He beat Angels’ starter and former Ranger C. J. Wilson, who did not come back out to pitch after the rain delay.
“When you start getting even 45 minutes to an hour, it’s a possibility [to come back], but when you get to a two-hour delay, it’s a lot you’re asking a pitcher to do,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Wilson, who threw 22 pitches. “He didn’t throw that much to where the bounceback tomorrow shouldn’t be really routine for him. He always bounces back well from his outings, anyway, so we’d rather start him fresh tomorrow.”
Wilson (4-3), whom Darvish replaced in the Rangers’ rotation this past off-season, was the tough luck loser. With the possibility of a rain delay looming, the left-hander gave up a run on three infield singles and a walk before the tarps came out. Saturday’s scheduled starter Jerome Williams relieved Wilson when play resumed and allowed all three inherited runners to score, ballooning Wilson’s ERA from 2.61 to 3.46.
On Saturday Wilson will become the first pitcher to start consecutive games since former Ranger Aaron Myette did it on September 4, 2002 after being ejected after throwing just four pitches the day before.
Williams was tagged himself with eleven hits and six earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He was working with his normal rest as the Angels had Thursday off.
“When the ball comes to me, I have to be ready,” Williams said. “I’ll be ready any time. It happened. They asked me if I was ready, and I’m a competitor. I’m ready. And I took the ball.”
The Rangers were ready as well. After their six-run explosion in the first, the Rangers tacked on single runs in the second, third, fourth and seventh. Chris Gentry went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Mitch Moreland had a homer and three RBI.
Said Hamilton after showering and getting dressed quickly after the game: “Don’t want to miss the fireworks.”
It’ll be a long summer of fireworks for Rangers fans if Hamilton and his teammates continue to play like this.
Jeff LeJeune writes on a broad spectrum of topics, from spirituality to sports to synchronicity and synergy, while trying hard to smile a little more at it all. Visit JeffLeJeune.com and follow on Twitter @JeffLeJeune.