Rangers top Hamilton, Angels in first meeting
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Josh Hamilton knows there will be some boos when he returns to Arlington the first week of the season.
If he performs the way he did during his first game against Texas on Thursday night, they will be well earned.
Hamilton hit one of four home runs for Los Angeles in the top of the fourth inning off Derek Lowe, but the Angels lost 10-9 to the Rangers.
“The guys already have a poll on the team, if I’ll get more claps or boos,” Hamilton said before the game.
“I can’t worry about it. There are people that clap and people that will boo. I think it’s funny. I got booed when I played there, why wouldn’t I get booed when I play for the Angels and play there?”
Hamilton isn’t the first player to move from the Rangers to their division rivals on the West Coast. C.J. Wilson switched teams before last season after signing a free-agent deal and went 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA for the Angels.
But Wilson didn’t have the same cache as Hamilton. He overcame drug addiction to win an MVP award become one of the games biggest stars.
In five seasons with Texas, Hamilton hit .305 with 142 home runs and 506 RBIs with another six homers and 22 RBIs in the Rangers’ two World Series runs.
The Angels rewarded him with a five-year, $125-million contract. Though expectations are high, Hamilton said he’s not feeling any additional pressure.
“Somebody told me to think about the contract you sign now, but you’re really getting paid for what you’ve done in the past,” said Hamilton, who finished 1 for 3. “So don’t put extra pressure on yourself to perform. Just go out, have fun, play the game and contribute any way you can.”
Earlier this spring, a minor firestorm broke out when Hamilton said the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was more of a football town. But he said Thursday he wasn’t questioning the priorities of the Rangers fans.
“When you start thinking about having 50,000 out on a Friday night instead of high school football games, that’s fun,” he said. “I’m glad the fans came out. Everybody loves a winner. Everybody comes out to watch a winner.
“I spent so much time with the fans, not because I wanted to get them to like me but because I wanted to,” he added. “When we go back there, if there’s somebody ragging me, cussing me or whatever the case may be, it’s still not going to stop me from signing autographs and spending time with them.”
Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick and Hank Conger homered during the Angels’ six-run fourth inning against Rangers starter Derek Lowe that pulled Los Angeles to 7-6.
Lowe had allowed only two hits in his first three innings, facing the minimum nine batters, before struggling in the fourth.
“Wow. I should have stopped,” said Lowe, who was pitching for the third time in seven days. “It was unbelievable. It’s hard to do. All kidding aside, it just shows you how important location is. Get the ball over the middle of the plate and bad things are going to happen.”
Conger had a two-run triple in the sixth that put Los Angeles ahead 8-7. Erick Aybar added a solo shot in the seventh.
Leonys Martin, the only Texas starter to play the full nine innings, hit a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rangers their third win in four games.
“They put some runs up in a hurry,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “But we can do that, too.”
Ian Kinsler doubled and scored in the first, then the Rangers used eight straight hits off Angels starter Jerome Williams to six more runs for a 7-0 lead.
Williams allowed the seven runs on 11 hits while facing only 14 batters. He struck out one.
NOTES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was 3 for 4 with with two RBIs and a run scored. . Kendrick went 2 for 3 to raised his batting average to .521. . Conger has driven in 15 runs in 12 games. . Pujols started at first for the second time in three games while also playing three straight games for the first time this spring. . Texas RHP Yu Darvish, who was scratched from his start Monday because of a stiff neck, threw a bullpen session Thursday and will start Saturday against Cincinnati. . Washington announced earlier Thursday that left-hander Matt Harrison will be the opening day starter and that right-hander Robbie Ross, who was vying for a spot at the tail end of the rotation after 58 relief appearances last season, will return to the bullpen. . Texas released RHP Yoshinori Tateyama from his minor league contract so he can try and pursue a major league job elsewhere.