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08/13/09 3:59 PM ET
Hamilton showing signs of return to form
Surging slugger has seven hits in his past eight at-bats
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had a revealing moment in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over the Indians. Batting with the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Hamilton took a 1-1 sinker to the opposite field against Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona. "You can't try to pull Carmona's fastball," Hamilton said. "You have to hit it where it's pitched or you're going to roll it over." Hamilton did not roll a ground ball to the right side. Instead, he doubled down the left-field line to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. "That double was the old Josh," Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Thursday's 4-1 win against the Indians. "He stayed inside the baseball and pushed it to left field. That's the old Josh. He takes whatever they give him." The "old Josh," who hit 32 home runs and 130 RBIs for the Rangers in 2008, may be coming back to life. Hamilton followed up his 3-for-4 game on Wednesday by going 4-for-4 with two RBIs in Thursday's victory over the Indians. Hamilton returns home to Arlington on Friday night against the Red Sox hitting .486 (18-for-37) with six doubles, a home run, eight RBIs and five walks in his past 10 games. He has had two consecutive multi-extra-base-hit games after not having one since May 24 against Houston. The solution has been simple and quite familiar, even if it has been difficult to implement. Hamilton is waiting on pitches better. Instead of jumping out too quickly with a tentative swing, he is staying back and swinging with authority again. "I'm focusing on letting the ball get to me," Hamilton said. "I do that instead of coming off my backside when I don't have bat control or power." Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo refers to it as a player "trusting himself." The more a player trusts himself, the more disciplined he stays at the plate. Hamilton has struck out just five times while drawing six walks in his past 13 games. In his first 54 games, he had 53 strikeouts and 13 walks. "We need him, there's no doubt about it," Jaramillo said. "Like when he had 130 RBIs, that's what you're counting on. You know he can hit home runs, but we need him to get on base and drive in runs." Since the All-Star break, Hamilton is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with runners in scoring position. He hit .188 with runners in scoring position before the break. "Getting hits definitely builds up your confidence," Hamilton said. "But the big boost is getting guys on base and you drive them in. It doesn't matter who the pitcher is, you feel you're going to get the job done." Hamilton lately has been doing it in the fifth spot in the lineup. Washington moved him down to take the pressure off him. It may be time to move him back to the No. 3 spot in the order. "I want him back in the No. 3 spot, but I'm going to keep him in the five-hole for now," Washington said. "I want to make sure he's progressing well. If he keeps swinging the bat [the way] he has been swinging, one day he'll show up at the yard and be back in the three-spot." Washington said getting Hamilton back in the No. 3 spot will help Michael Young take off. Teams are starting to pitch around Young, and he went into Thursday's game with one hit in his past 18 at-bats. "Michael is seeing a lot of garbage right now," Washington said. "They've been throwing him a lot of tough pitches."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.