Josh Hamilton rebounds, but Rangers beat Angels 7-3

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Even though Josh Hamilton finished his return to Texas by going 3-for-5, the Rangers claimed the series Sunday night, beating the Angels 7-3.

Unfortunately, Hamilton failed to come through when it would have made the biggest difference. After Yu Darvish opened the top of the first with a walk, a hit by pitch and another walk, Hamilton stepped up with the bases loaded and none out. He swung at both pitches he saw and hit a routine grounder on the second, resulting in a 4-6-3 double play that nonetheless gave the Angels their first run.

The Angels finished the top of the first up 2-0, only to see Jered Weaver give up three runs on back-to-back homers from Lance Berkman and David Murphy in the bottom of the inning.

Both Darvish and Weaver later left with injuries. The blister that Darvish developed in Tuesday’s near perfect game knocked him out after five innings, while Weaver was removed with a sprained left (non-pitching) elbow, the result of an awkward fall trying to get out of the way of a comebacker. Weaver is iffy to make his next start.

With the starters gone, the Rangers won the battle of the bullpens. Ian Kinsler hit a three-run homer off former teammate Mark Lowe in the bottom of the sixth, putting the Rangers up 7-3 and finishing the scoring for the night.

Kinsler finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBI and a walk. He has three homers already this season.

Hamilton’s average bottomed out at .048 before he collected a double and two singles in the middle of the game. He got one more at-bat in the ninth and grounded out to end it, leaving him at .160 (4-for-25) through six games.

Of course, it means next to nothing right now, but with the Angels’ strength supposed to be the top five or six hitters in the lineup, it’s funny to see none of those guys hitting above .280, while Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos are all at .300 or better from the seventh-through-ninth spots.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.