Andruw homers in first three at-bats
Rangers slugger flirts with history in finale with Angels
ANAHEIM -- Rangers designated hitter Andruw Jones went deep in his first three at-bats in Wednesday's 8-1 victory over the Angels, making a case to be the club's everyday designated hitter."Andruw put us on his back, and everybody just followed," Washington said after his team finished taking two of three from the Angels.
"That's what Andruw is capable of," third baseman Michael Young said. "That's not the first time he's shown power; he's been doing it his whole career. There aren't many guys in the game who have as much natural power as Andruw."
Jones became the 12th player in Rangers history to hit three home runs in a game. It's been done 15 times total, including three times by Juan Gonzalez and twice by Al Oliver. Brad Wilkerson was the last to do it on July 3, 2007, against the Angels in Arlington.
Jones had already done it once himself on Sept. 25, 2002, while with the Atlanta Braves against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Major League record of four homers in a game has been accomplished 15 times, the last by Carlos Delgado while with the Blue Jays on Sept. 25, 2003.
Jones hit a two-run home run in the first on Wednesday and a solo shot in the third off Angels starter Ervin Santana. He added another bases-empty home run off reliever off reliever Rich Thompson in the fifth. All three home runs went over the left-field fence."They made mistakes, and I took advantage of them," Jones said. "I was just looking for pitches over the plate. What they were trying to do, everything was either hard or soft. Nothing in between. I was patient enough to put good wood on the ball."
That gave Jones two shots to become the 16th player in Major League history to hit four home runs in a game. But he popped out against reliever Kevin Jepsen in the sixth and struck out against Jason Bulger in the ninth.
"I was thinking about it," Jones admitted. "I tried. I just couldn't get it done."
Jones also hit one on Tuesday night in his first game in Southern California since his disastrous 2008 season with the Dodgers. The four home runs in two games were one more than he hit in 75 games with the Dodgers.
Jones insisted there was no motivation in performing well in Southern California after what happened last year, even though he was greeted with more than a few boos at Angel Stadium this week.
"No, none at all," Jones said. "Just because I had one bad year ... things just happen. I've been looking to put everything behind me. I've been working hard on things, the Rangers gave me an opportunity, and I've been lucky to take advantage of it."
Jones barely made the team out of Spring Training and began the season as the fifth outfielder and part-time designated hitter. Now he is hitting .250 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs in 46 games and 160 at-bats. He hit .158 with 14 RBIs in 209 at-bats for the Dodgers last season.
"He's having a terrific season for them," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's obviously much more comfortable in the batter's box than we saw him last year with the Dodgers."
Jones is hitting .254 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in his last 16 games. With Chris Davis in the Minor Leagues and Hank Blalock at first base, the path is clear for Jones to play regularly at designated hitter if he keeps this up.
"It was just good to go out and perform well and get a win," Jones said. "Everybody produced tonight. It's about team, not just one individual person. It's about team and beating a team that you're competing against."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.