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Ian Casselberry

Texas falters late, but welcome to the postseason, Josh Hamilton!

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If the Texas Rangers are to rebound after a disappointing 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS, they probably will need Josh Hamilton(notes) contributing.

The way Hamilton began the Yankees series, by slugging a three-run home run against CC Sabathia(notes), had to be encouraging.

One of the more surprising aspects of the Rangers' ALDS win over the Tampa Bay Rays was that it was accomplished with little to no help from their No. 2 and 3 hitters, Michael Young(notes) and Hamilton.

In five games against the Rays, Young and Hamilton combined for five hits in 38 at-bats, a .132 average. Young did swing a big bat in Game 2 of the ALDS, going 2 for 4 with a pivotal three-run home run. But other than that, he was nearly invisible.

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Hamilton's struggles were even more surprising, given his MVP-caliber performance during the regular season. Missing the last month of the season is no way for a player to stay sharp, and Hamilton looked as if he'd lost his timing. He insists he was trying to do too much, however, and things were coming together at the end of the ALDS.

The swing clicked into place in the first inning against the Yanks. Sabathia had trouble finding his control, walking leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus(notes) and giving up a double to Young after falling behind 3-0. Sabathia found the strike zone with his first two pitches to Hamilton. But after pitching him away, Sabathia missed inside with a curveball and Hamilton pulled it down the right-field line for a three-run homer.

With one swing, Hamilton finally joined the Rangers in the postseason and helped Texas establish an early lead on the Yankees.

For the game, Young and Hamilton combined to go 3 for 7 with five RBIs. If the Rangers continue to get that sort of production from their big hitters, they obviously become much more dangerous to the Yankees. It also helps to take some pressure off the Texas pitching staff, which is sure to give up some runs in this series.

Now, if only Vladimir Guerrero(notes) (0 for 4 in Game 1) would finally get it going, too...

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