Blog: Hamilton bombs away in record-setting night

Texas Rangers\' Josh Hamilton, center, walks off the field with David Murphy, left, and Nelson Cruz after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Hamilton had a record-setting four home runs as Texas won 10-3. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Craig Heist,

BALTIMORE – Years from now when someone walks up to me and says, “I was there at Camden Yards the night Josh Hamilton hit four home runs and had eight RBIs,” I’m going to ask for a ticket stub.

Only 11,263 were in attendance.

However, the ones who were here saw one of the greatest single performances ever by a player.

Hamilton became the 16th player to hit four homers in a game, and the first since Carlos Delgado in September 2003 for the Toronto Blue Jays, as the Rangers blasted the Orioles for a second straight night, winning 10-3.

The Rangers centerfielder drove in a career-high eight runs and his five extra base hits (he also doubled) tied a Major League record for the seventh time. Hamilton’s 18 total bases are a new American League record and one off the Major League mark set by Shawn Green of the Dodgers on May 23, 2002 against the Brewers. Hamilton has also hit two-run homers in five of his last six plate appearances going back to Monday night’s seven-run ninth inning.

This is the reason my father always told me, “You never leave the ball park before the game is over because you never know what you are going to see.”

See Hamilton make the hit.

Hamilton didn’t have much time to reflect on his record-setting night before he was rushed into the media room and asked about what this night meant to him.

“Other than being in the World Series, this is the highlight of my big league career,” Hamilton said. “You know, I was saying after I hit two, I’d never hit three in a game before. What a blessing that was and then to hit four, it was just an awesome feeling just to see how excited my teammates got,” said Hamilton.

Talk about locked in. Hamilton was just that and more as his four homers came off three different Orioles pitchers.

Hamilton took starter Jake Arrieta deep in the first inning and then got him again in the third. In the seventh, the victim was Zach Phillips and in the eighth it was Darren O’Day, three pitchers with three completely different styles of pitching.

“Pitchers for me, I go and I look at the book to see what they got fastball, curveball and change and what percentage they throw what,” Hamilton said. “I pick the top three highest percentages and if they throw me that other fourth pitch, hopefully, I’m ready for it. For me, it’s keeping it as simple as possible no matter who’s on the mound, whether it be a closer, starter or set-up guy, the more I think about it, I’m the best player when I get out of my own way and don’t try to over analyze everything.”

The feeling of the night is something that Hamilton soon won’t forget and neither will his teammates or manager.

“Coming around second base and looking in your dugout and seeing how excited your teammates are, touching home plate and then going into a reception like that from them was the best part of it all,” Hamilton said.

“Just amazing,” said Rangers Manager Ron Washington. “History was witnessed tonight. Josh came out tonight and he wasn’t going to be denied. He barreled everything he swung at tonight and he’s capable of doing that. I know he can’t do it every night but what you saw tonight, he’s capable of doing and he has it in him and tonight, he brought it out.”

“It was fun,” said Rangers third baseman Michael Young. “That was the greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen. “Obviously, there’s a ton of excitement heading into that last at bat and then when he connects for it, as teammates you just get happy for a teammate for a once in a lifetime performance. I’m not sure we will ever see anything like that again. Certainly, I don’t think we’ll see it live. He earned every one of them too, three to centerfield and one to the opposite field. It was an incredible night.”

A night that anyone who was here to witness it won’t soon forget.

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