I walked out of Oriole Park at Camden Yards on this date last year, thankful that I was on the road with the club for that particular portion of the road trip. The Rangers were going to a few cities, but we decided on Baltimore because it was four weekday games and a team that featured a former Ranger manager (Buck Showalter) and a collection of former Rangers (Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Darren O'Day).
What no one knew was that Josh Hamilton was going to have one of the greatest games by a hitter in baseball history. As soon as Hamilton hit the third of his three home runs, I was busy writing a news story for ESPN.com. Three homers is certainly a monster game and I was impressed because he'd just hit the third off a reliever. It wasn't as if he simply had starter Jake Arrieta's number. And I knew he would face a different pitcher in his next -- and final -- at-bat.
The next at-bat had the entire stadium buzzing. A visiting stadium, mind you. The game was out of hand, but most of the Oriole fans (it wasn't a huge attendance night anyway) stayed to see what Hamilton might do. When he hit the final homer off O'Day, the Baltimore fans gave him a standing ovation, aware they were seeing history.
It's amazing how different things are today for Hamilton. He comes into the game hitting just .202 with two homers and nine RBIs. He's got a .535 OPS. Last year, he was hitting .376 with 10 homers and 28 RBIs going into the four-homer game. He had a stout 1.138 OPS, tops in the league.
But since that four-homer game, Hamilton has hit just .244. He hasn't been close to the same player and remains in a funk despite a new location. Can he turn it around tonight on the anniversary of his four-homer game?