ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton won't want to turn the calendar this week. How could he possibly top one of the hottest Junes on record? Yes, game time temperature was 96 degrees, but Hamilton's bat was so hot it could ignite pyrotechnics. In fact, it did.
A month ago, the guy couldn't hit if the sun was out. He was inept against lefties or if he tied his shoes wrong. Now, he just doesn't miss, against anyone. The sure-fire American League Player of the Month (really, is there an arguement here?) did it again Sunday night with his stick -- and his glove.
What a second inning. In the top of the frame, Hamilton raced to his left at full speed, reached up and snared a screaming liner off the bat of Astros third baseman Chris Johnson. The catch preserved a 1-2-3 inning for winning pitcher Tommy Hunter (4-0) as Texas crushed Houston, 10-1, for its second straight win and 13th win the last 14 games.
In the bottom of the inning, after Vladimir Guerrero led off with a double off the left-field wall, Hamilton destroyed Astros ace Roy Oswalt's 1-1 delivery 468 feet into the upper deck in right-center. The two-run blast, his 18th of the season, set off the center-field fireworks while extending his career-best hitting streak to 21 games.
Hunter is getting used to that kind of service. Hamilton has homered in all five of his starts.
The 468-foot bomb ranks as the second-longest ever hit at Rangers Ballpark. Jose Canseco holds the mark with a 480-foot shot against Seattle on June 13, 1994. Hamilton also holds what is now the third-longest home run of 460 feet against the Angels on May 15, 2009. He added a third RBI with a groundout in the sixth inning for his 30th RBI of the month.
The homer gave Hamilton 16 hits in 25 at-bats and it was his 47th hit in June, tying him for the most in one month in franchise history with Mickey Rivers (1980) and Frank Catalanotto (2001). It also kept Hamilton tied with Kansas City's Jose Guillen for the longest hit streak in the majors this season. Guillen had two more hits Sunday.
With two games left in June (both in Anaheim against the Angels), check out these ridiculous numbers this month: He's batting an MLB-best .470 (47-100) to raise his average from .281 to .346 with nine homers, 30 RBIs, 47 hits and 85 total bases.
During this six-game homestand, Hamilton batted .455 (10-22) with two homers, three doubles, four runs and five RBIs.
Sunday's 1-for-5 performance was actually quite tame -- if you consider 468-foot homers tame.
*Starting pitcher Tommy Hunter continued to look impressive in his fifth start of the season as he improved to 4-0 and dropped his ERA from 2.31 to 2.15. He went six innings, allowing one run on five hits with a strikeout and two walks. He threw 86 pitches, 52 for strikes. He could have gone deeper into the game, but with Texas holding a 10-1 lead and with an off-day on Monday to rest the bullpen, there was little need for Hunter to get back on the mound.
He allowed all five hits in two innings. The Astros led off the third with back-to-back singles, but Hunter delivered a 4-6-3 double play (that included a run-down). In the fifth, a base-running mistake by Jason Castro as he tried to take third base limited Houston's damage to one run.
*Rangers closer Neftali Feliz put the finishing touches on a 5-1 homestand, although he didn't get credit for the save since the score was 10-1. Feliz pitched the top of the ninth, allowing a walk. Manager Ron Washington got his closer some work since he hadn't pitched since Tuesday.
*The Rangers crushed Roy Oswalt, who allowed eight runs, seven earned, on seven hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. He also threw two wild pitches to go with three strikeouts. He gave up home runs to Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, plus near-misses to Matt Treanor, Vladimir Guerrero and Ian Kinsler.
*The light-hitting Astros ran themselves out of a potential big inning in the fifth with two outs. Michael Bourn's shallow single to left got Houston on the board when Geoff Blum slid safely home as Josh Hamilton's throw skidded by catcher Matt Treanor. Astros catcher Jason Castro unwisely tried to go first-to-third, but Hunter, backing up the play, easily gunned him down to limit Houston to the one run.
*In the bottom of the fifth, Ian Kinsler took a walk from Roy Oswalt and then advanced to second and then to third on wild pitches. In the sixth, Vladimir Guerrero scored on a wild pitch by reliever Chris Sampson for a 10-1 lead. The Rangers batted around in the inning, scoring three runs.
*At some point, production coming from the bottom third of the order is going to force criticism of that weak link to lighten. Julio Borbon has been red hot, but don't leave out Treanor, who continues to pile up clutch hits. He had two more Sunday night. In the fourth, he belted a one-out double and scored on Elvis Andrus' bloop hit into right. With the bases juiced and two outs in the fifth, Treanor laced a single into right, scoring two for a 7-1 Rangers lead. Treanor, now up to .234, was the last batter Oswalt would face.
Borbon then greeted Sampson with an RBI single to right. Borbon is now hitting .292 on the season.
*Injured pitcher Derek Holland threw on flat ground out to 150 feet today. Holland reported that his shoulder and knee "felt very good." The next step is a bullpen session in the middle of the week. Levine said Holland remains on track to come back right after the All-Star break in July.