Slugging outfielder Josh Hamilton has been on fire to start the 2012 season with the Texas Rangers. On Tuesday night, Hamilton did what not many have accomplished before. He went 5-for-5 with four home runs and eight RBI against the Baltimore Orioles.
“I just sent him a text today and asked him, ‘I thought they outlawed using the tee in the American League,’” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “I wasn’t aware until I came in after the game…I watched the replays. He’s on fire. The beautiful thing about it from a hitting perspective is those balls are being driven to the big part of the ballpark. That’s one thing that Josh had the ability to do when I was there and I had seen…He’s not a pull cautious man. When he lets that ball travel and use his hands, he’s so physically strong and gifted. When he gets into a streak, it changes games dramatically. Look at what he’s doing now.”
Before Hurdle became the skipper of the Pirates, he spent a season as the Rangers’ hitting coach in 2010. Texas won the American League Championship that season.
“It’s got to be very hard to do,” Hurdle said of Hamilton hitting four long balls in the game. “I can’t even imagine. A good day for me was four home runs in BP. That’s a whole lot swings. To square up Major League pitching? He’s one of the rare guys that I don’t think anything he did would really make you [go], ‘I can’t believe he just did that.’”
“My dad came into Texas and watched a series and he laid it out, ‘I have not seen a young man play the game like that since I saw Mickey Mantle in his prime.’ He can change the game at the plate. He can change the game in the outfield. He can change the game on the bases. The mans an excellent base runner with tremendous speed for a big man. And daring. He plays without caution.”
“It was an honor to be able to work with him for one season. He did make my job easier.”
The Pirates had a walkoff win on Tuesday at PNC Park. The team hit three home runs (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Rod Barajas, who’s sealed the win) and also played small ball by hitting a sac fly in the 8th, which gave them go-ahead run at the time.
The mix of both power and speed is what Hurdle said today is what he envisions from the lineup.
“To get it in place it obviously opens up everybody’s comfort zone a little bit,” Hurdle said. “We’ve talked about running, swinging and running, hitting and running. All those things. To score with a sacrifice fly, where Neil was able to put a foot down get maybe got out front with his body, but kept his hands back, hit a ball deep enough in the outfield to score a man. That’s all a part of what we need to do. We’ve got to be creative. We’ve got to be athletic. We’ve got to use the element of surprise, our versatility and athleticism to make up for the power that we may not have compared to some other clubs. I still believe the power is going to come.”
After taking a 3-2 lead, Joel Hanrahan blew his first save of the season. He entered action 5-for-5 in save opps before giving up a two-run bomb to former bucco Adam LaRoche.
“No night is a good night to have it happen, but the guys battled back,” Hanrahan said after the game last night. “They battled for that run in the eighth inning. [Then] came out there in that last inning and get it done. Rod heard the boo’s earlier in the game, then came back and gave them a walk off homer. That’s pretty awesome. That’s an incredible feeling.”
The club was able to pick Hanrahan up with a walkoff two-run shot of their own in the ninth — Barajas’ first as a Pirate. It also marked his third walk off homer in his career.
- Pirates lineup vs. Nationals: Jose Tabata 9 Neil Walker 4 Andrew McCutchen 8 Pedro Alvarez 5 Casey McGehee 3 Yamaico Navarro 7 Rod Barajas 2 Josh Harrison 6 Erik Bedard 1
- Lefty Erik Bedard will get the start for the Bucs tonight. In his first two starts at PNC Park, Bedard has allowed three earned runs over 14.0 innings (1.93 ERA), but is 0-2 over those starts. The Pirates club was only able to give him one run of support combined in both losses. Bedard struck out a season-high 11 batters over 5.0 innings his last start in St. Louis.
- After righty A.J. Burnett’s 10 whiffs over his 8.0 inning start, the Pirates pitchers have struck out 140 batters (since April 21st) in their last 140.0 innings of work. That number tops the National League and is second in the Majors behind the Tampa Bay Rays (151).
- Nationals lineup vs. Bucs: Ian Desmond 6 Bryce Harper 8 Ryan Zimmerman 5 Adamn LaRoche 3 Xavier Nady 9 Danny Espinosa 4 Tyler Moore 7 Wilson Ramos 2 Ross Detwiler 1