Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton is historically hot.
The 30-year-old impending free agent outfielder hit a two-run homer in the first inning, a two-run homer in the third, a double in the fifth, a two-run homer in the seventh and yet another two-run blast in the eighth as Texas rolled to a 10-3 victory over the Orioles on Tuesday evening at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
To recap: Hamilton finished the night 5-for-5 with four home runs, a double and eight RBI. He set a new American League record with his 18 total bases and became just the 16th player in major league history to go deep four times in one game.
The former No. 1 overall pick now has five big flies in his last six plate appearances and boasts a stellar .406/.458/.840 batting line on the season. He’s tallied 14 total homers and 36 RBI in just 30 games played.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.