In the field and at the plate, Josh Hamilton(notes) isn’t taking long to make an impact for the playoff-bound Texas Rangers after missing nearly a month. He may also be in line to receive a big individual honor soon as well.
The AL MVP hopeful is expected to play a third straight game after missing 24 with two broken ribs as the Rangers close the regular season against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Hamilton made a couple of impressive catches while starting in center field Friday and said he had no concerns about his ribs. He was back in the lineup Saturday as the designated hitter, and hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning en route to Texas’ 6-2 win.
“I felt good. I felt calm,” said Hamilton, who is expected to play in left field Sunday. “The result was there tonight.”
Hamilton’s home run was his 32nd of the season and a sacrifice fly in the seventh gave him 100 RBIs for the second time in his career. He also singled and is batting a major league-leading .360.
“It takes a guy with less talent maybe 15 or 20 at-bats,” manager Ron Washington said. “With Ham, he had three (Friday) night and his second one (Saturday) he was locked in. We’re so happy to have him back.”
While a healthy Hamilton gives Texas (90-71) a big boost, the Rangers will also look to head into the postseason coming off a series win when they hand the ball to Colby Lewis(notes) (12-13, 3.72 ERA).
Lewis has won three of his last four starts, posting a 2.13 ERA. He gave up one run and struck out six in six innings of a 16-9 win over Oakland last Sunday.
“From Day One I’ve just tried to go out and make a quality start every time,” said Lewis, who is scheduled to start Game 3 of the AL division series. “Now I want to stay in rhythm and keep my pitch count up.”
The right-hander gave up two runs and struck out 10 in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to the Angels on Sept. 21 in his first start against them since 2004.
Los Angeles (79-82), which will miss the playoffs for the first time in four years and has been guaranteed its first losing season since 2003, will try to end a disappointing campaign on a positive note. The Angels had won four of five before Saturday’s loss.
Haren, who Los Angeles had hoped would boost the club’s chances at a playoff berth when he was acquired from Arizona in July, has given up three or fewer runs in his last seven starts for a 1.53 ERA to go along with a 3-0 record. He gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-2 win over Oakland on Tuesday.
There was talk last week that Haren was done for the year because he’s pitched 229 innings, but the team announced Saturday that he would start the season finale.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts against Texas this season, allowing two earned runs over 16 innings. Los Angeles scored one run in each of those starts in support of him.