It's been a tumultuous last few months for Texas Rangers right fielder Josh Hamilton.
However, it appears as if his return to Texas has resurrected his once-formidable swing.
With two outs and runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth inning and his team trailing 3-2, the pinch-hitting Hamilton laced a shot to the gap in the left-center off Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, plating both second baseman Hanser Alberto and designated hitter Prince Fielder, providing Texas with the walk-off victory, their 10th win in their last 12 games.
The game-winning double comes less than 48 hours after Hamilton sealed a Rangers win on Friday night with two home runs, symbolizing an apparent return to form for the left-hander as he begins his second stint in Arlington. The Texas win did come with a price, however, as third baseman and cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre sustained a left thumb laceration on a slide, an injury which will hold him out of competition for approximately two weeks.
On the other side of the docket, the loss comes as a heartbreaker for the scuffling Red Sox, their third defeat in a row at the hands of the Rangers. Boston virtually squandered a chance at victory with three costly errors, throwing away a solid five-inning, six-hit, two-run (one earned) performance by much-maligned starter Joe Kelly.
Kelly, winless in his last nine starts, wasn't fabulous, getting himself into trouble on numerous occasions; however, he was able to make the key pitch and record the key out when necessary. His breaking ball and changeup were both excellent, a change of pace from his previous outing in which he exclusively featured the fastball.
The Red Sox offense finally woke up this afternoon as well, recording 11 hits; however, nine runners were left stranded, a factor which suppressed a potentially potent attack.
Boston struck first against left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez, with center fielder Mookie Betts coming around to score on a single by left fielder Hanley Ramirez after hitting a single himself. Texas responded instantly, however, with leadoff man Delino DeShields walking, stealing second, advancing to third on a Fielder single, and scoring on a Beltre groundout.
The Red Sox struck again in the second with third baseman Pablo Sandoval hitting a single to center to lead off the inning and coming around to score after a throwing error by Beltre with two outs. Boston had an opportunity to put more runs on the board in the stanza, with right fielder Rusney Castillo standing at second after the error,;however, Betts grounded into a fielder's choice to close the door.
Spurred by a horrendous defensive showing in the bottom of the third by Boston, Texas was able to knot up the contest once again. After a Shin Soo-Choo walk with one out, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was unable to corrall a feed from shortstop Xander Bogaerts on what should have been a double play ball after a grounder from Fielder, keeping the inning alive. Beltre then singled to center, scoring Choo to tie up the ballgame at two. After an error by Sandoval on a grounder down the line by shortstop Elvis Andrus, the bases were loaded for center fielder Leonys Martin, who grounded out to first baseman Mike Napoli to end the inning.
Boston regained the advantage in the sixth inning, a lead they would hold until the final stanza. Ramirez led off the top half with a single to right, stealing second in the ensuing at-bat. Napoli and Sandoval were both retired. Bogaerts singled with two outs, driving home the left fielder. Catcher Blake Swihart followed that up with a single of his own, spelling the end of the outing for Rodriguez, who finished with 5.2 innings of work, allowing nine hits and three runs (two earned) to accompany his four strikeouts. Swihart stole second off of reliever Jon Edwards, but right fielder Rusney Castillo stranded both runners in scoring position with a pop out.
The Red Sox would go on to strand Betts at third in the seventh, Bogaerts at first in the eighth, and runners on the corners in the ninth against eventual winning pitcher Ross Ohlendorf (1-0).
The defensive woes continued for Boston in the bottom of the ninth as Alberto reached on an error by Sandoval, his sixth of the season, to begin the inning. A DeShields bunt sacrificed the runner to second, and a Choo grounder to Uehara (2-2) moved him to third. The Red Sox opted to intentionally walk the winning run, Fielder, to place runners on the corners, and Hamilton, pinch hitting for substitute third baseman Adam Rosales, responded by placing the 1-1 offering from the closer deep into left-center for the win.