Josh Hamilton is back in a Texas Rangers uniform, and already he looks like his old self. Hamilton is hitting .273 with two home runs, five RBIs and a .385 OBP through seven games with his former club. He even had a walk-off double in a 4-3 home win over Boston on Sunday.
Yes, it appears both sides – Hamilton and the Rangers – are happy to be reunited.
“I think it’s been great,” Rangers television play-by-play announcer Steve Busby said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The fans really needed something to hang their hats on. The Rangers had not played well at home at all this year, and getting Josh back and running off three out of four against the Red Sox really helped the climate around the ball club. It’s been a lot of fun. Electricity was back in the ball park for awhile.”
The Rangers (26-25) have turned things around since their 7-15 start. They’ve gone 19-10 in their last 19 games and have won 10 of 12.
Prince Fielder has been a big reason why. He leads the team in average (.359), home runs (10), RBIs (38), OBP (.412) and hits (74). He’s been the man.
“He really has,” Busby said. “He was really the only hitter in the month of April that did much for the Rangers, and it was kind of a one-man show. But we found out last year he had the surgery, he had a ruptured disc in his neck, and apparently that had been bothering him when he was in Detroit too and he just didn’t tell anybody. He’s healthy. He’s happy. When you start feeling good physically, your mental outlook improves too, and that’s exactly what happened. Prince is . . . tearing it up.”
Fielder also had a .563 slugging percentage and a .975 OPS. What’s next? Is he going to start pitching, too?
“No, he’s going to start stealing bases,” Busby joked. “There really isn’t much that he hasn’t done. He’s beat shifts. He’s hit he ball the other way when it’s been a run-producing opportunity for him. He’s been a great leader on the ball club. He’s taken a couple young guys under his wing and really explained things to them. He’s just been tremendous this year.”
The Rangers also got an impressive major league debut from Chi Chi Gonzalez on Saturday. The 23-year-old pitched 5 and 2/3 shutout innings in 8-0 win against Boston.
“He was pitching well (in the minors), and they had a need,” Busby said. “They brought him up and he didn’t disappoint. He’s the real deal. He’s not gong to light up any radar guns, but he knows how to pitch. The young man is a very solid competitor. That’s exactly what he did the other night against Boston.”
The Rangers, who won back-to-back home games for the first time all year this past weekend, are now just 5.5 games back of the Astros in the AL West.
“Everybody on the ball club really believes they can compete and that they are as good – if not better – than everybody in the division,” Busby said. “I think that last road trip when they went 7-2 really got in their minds, ‘Hey, we can really do this thing.’ They’re going to take it out and see what happens.”