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04/09/12 12:42 AM ET
Hamilton flashes leather, big stick
Two outstanding catches, long home run entertain fans, mates
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton's talents were once again on parade Sunday night against the White Sox. This was one of those games that remind everybody that Hamilton remains one of the most talented players in the game.
This was also a reminder of why the Rangers broke down and decided to let Hamilton be their regular center fielder this season. The guy can play the position, it's just as simple as that.
"Josh was outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after a 5-0 victory over the White Sox. "He certainly looked good in the batter's box and how about the way he roamed the outfield."
How about it? Hamilton was 2-for-4 with his first home run and made two diving catches in center field to help the Rangers' pitchers complete their first shutout.
"I always like catches better," Hamilton said. "You're on the other end of the play actually developing. When it all comes together, it's a good feeling. The home runs happen so fast and I don't stand there and pimp it."
Hamilton's first great play came in the second. A.J. Pierzynski, with two outs in the inning, smashed one to right-center. Hamilton didn't have to run far, but he had to move quickly because the ball was hit hard. He did just that and made a diving backhanded catch to take away an extra-base hit.
Hamilton's offense came to the front in the fourth inning, when he led off with a single and scored on Adrian Beltre's two-run home run. Hamilton also went deep himself to lead off the sixth, crushing an 0-1 pitch from White Sox starter Gavin Floyd into the second deck of the Home Run Porch in deep right-center.
The home run was measured at 441 feet on a night when the wind wasn't blowing hard to right field like it will do later this summer.
"It wasn't a night for the ball to jump," said Hamilton, who is 5-for-11 after three games. "I knew it was probably gone when I hit it. I didn't know where it landed until I saw the replay on the Jumbotron. What if the jet stream was working?"
The Rangers took a 5-0 lead into the seventh when Hamilton flashed his defense again. This time the White Sox had a runner on second with two outs when Alejandro De Aza hit a long drive to left-center between Hamilton and left fielder David Murphy. This time Hamilton had a much longer way to go but he outran the ball and snagged it with another diving catch.
"It was one of those things where you're running as fast as you can and you don't seem to be making any ground up," Hamilton said. "The ball keeps moving away from you. Fortunately, at the last minute, I felt Murphy wasn't in the area and I could dive for it without a collision and I did."