Matthew Pouliot

Texas Rangers fans hold signs mocking Los Angeles Angels' Josh Hamilton in Arlington, Texas

Josh Hamilton has miserable return to Texas in Angels’ loss

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Josh Hamilton had no answer for the boos that rained down in his return to Arlington on Friday; the former AL MVP went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a couple of misplays in right field as the Angels lost to the Rangers 3-2.

Adrian Beltre hit a game-tying homer for Texas in the seventh, and Ian Kinsler singled in Craig Gentry for the go-ahead run in the eighth.

The Angels got nothing out of their vaunted middle-of-the-order today, as Albert Pujols, Hamilton and Mark Trumbo combined to go 0-for-10 with two walks.

Besides struggling at the plate, Hamilton had a tough time in right field.

Hamilton turned A.J. Pierzynski’s double into a triple in the second inning and later got a late jump on Lance Berkman’s fly to shallow right in the fifth. The ball dropped out of the reach of both Hamilton and second baseman Howie Kendrick, and Berkman was credited with a double.

Hamilton is now 1-for-16 with eight strikeouts this season. His one hit Thursday did drive in two runs.

Hamilton spent five years with the Rangers before signing a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in the offseason. He won AL MVP honors in 2010 and hit 43 homers and drove in 128 runs last year,

Prince Fielder powers Tigers past Yankees

Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera
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Prince Fielder saw to it that the Tigers didn’t need a closer today.

Fielder hit a three-run homer off Boone Logan in the fifth to give the Tigers the lead and added a two-run blast for insurance in the seventh Friday as the Tigers beat the Yankees 8-3.

Fielder’s first homer came immediately after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the call to pull starter Ivan Nova. With the Yankees up 3-2, Nova was one out away from being eligible for the win at the time. He had allowed the first two runners in the fifth to reach base, only to induce a double-play ball from Torii Hunter afterwards. However, he then hit Miguel Cabrera on the hand with a pitch, causing Girardi to make the change.

Logan had limited Fielder to one single in five at-bats lifetime before Fielder got a hold of a fastball today and lined it just over the wall in right.

Since the lead proved comfortable, the Tigers allowed Drew Smyly to pitch the final four innings for his first career save. Then again, given the way he was throwing, Smyly probably would have been the best choice in a 4-3 game, too. The left-hander retired all 12 batters he faced, striking out five of them.

Starter Doug Fister got the win after allowing three runs in five innings. Shaky with his command, as he often was in spring training, he walked two and hit a pair of batters. One of those batters, Eduardo Nunez, left the game with a badly bruised forearm.

The Yankees dropped to 1-3 with the loss, while the Tigers improved to 2-2. Kevin Youkilis homered for the Bombers.

Evan Longoria called out in ninth for overtaking Ben Zobrist on double

Evan Longoria
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A potential ninth-inning rally for the Rays was sabotaged in Thursday’s game against the Orioles when Evan Longoria was ruled to have passed Ben Zobrist on the basepaths on what otherwise would have been a double.

Down 6-2, the Rays had runners on first and second with none out and Longoria up. Longoria hit a long fly to left-center that barely escaped Adam Jones and Nate McLouth and rolled all of the way back into center field. Zobrist, who was on first, was unsure if it would be caught and headed back to first base to tag up. After the ball got away, Zobrist and Longoria were practically side-by-side running towards second, though Zobrist did get there first.

It appeared the end result of the play was an RBI double, with Longoria on second, Zobrist on third and Sean Rodriguez having scored. However, the umpires then called Longoria out for having overtaken Zobrist.

Whether Longoria in fact did that was never quite clear. From the Rays’ camera behind the action, it didn’t look like Longoria ever truly overtook him, but the angle wasn’t very good. It was also unclear how any of the umpires made the call when all seemed focused on the ball in the outfield. Regardless, it wasn’t the best of ideas for Longoria to try to keep pace with him.

After the play, Orioles closer Jim Johnson retired two of the next three batters to end the game at 6-3.

Brian Roberts suffers hamstring injury, gets helped off field

Brian Roberts, Jose Lobaton
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In what one can only hope is a temporary setback for Brian Roberts’ comeback bid, the Orioles second baseman left Thursday’s game in the ninth inning with a right hamstring injury.

Roberts said he felt a pop in his hamstring before diving headfirst into second base in the game against the Rays. He didn’t put any weight on the leg as he was aided off the field.

Roberts was 1-for-4 today and 5-for-12 on the young season. He was hurt on his first steal attempt of the year.

Assuming that Roberts lands on the disabled list, the Orioles will probably go to Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla at second base. They do have top prospect Jonathan Schoop available, but it’s doubtful they’d turn to him so soon. They actually have him slated to play shortstop this year after he spent most of last season at second base.

Cubs survive another Carlos Marmol scare, beat Pirates 3-2

Carlos Marmol
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After Carlos Marmol’s shaky showing got him pulled from a save chance on Opening Day, the Cubs reiterated that he was still their closer.

Marmol, though, wasted no time in putting that to the test. Handed another 3-0 lead on Wednesday — thanks to a Nate Schierholtz homer providing two insurance runs in the top of the ninth — Marmol gave up a single, a walk and back-to-back RBI singles before finishing off the Pirates.

Manager Dale Sveum used both James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa in relief of Marmol to close out a 3-1 game Monday, but the two fallbacks had already worked today, giving Marmol more rope than he likely otherwise would have received. Sveum did get Hisanori Takahashi up after the first run scored, but he stuck with Marmol after a visit to the mound from Chris Bosio.

Marmol escaped the jam by striking out Pedro Alvarez and inducing a double-play ball from Neil Walker. Both at-bats were pretty awful. Alvarez fanned on three pitches, the last being a slider in the dirt. Walker reached for a fastball that was outside and a bit high and, instead of going with it, tried to pull it. The result was an easy 4-6-3.

The problem for Marmol right now is that his slider isn’t diving like it once did. As a two-pitch pitcher with no command, he’s always relied on getting swings and misses on his slider. And right now, the pitch often isn’t tempting enough to chase. The Cubs can’t keep turning late leads over to him while he looks like this. Walker’s grounder may have bought Marmol a little more time to figure things out, but it’s obvious that Fujikawa is the guy the Cubs should be turning to in the ninth.