Facing knuckler cures what ails Hamilton

Battling a cold, slugger hits first two home runs since rejoining Rangers

Facing knuckler cures what ails Hamilton

ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton was still dealing with a bad cold on Friday afternoon before his second home game with the Rangers. Asked if he was feeling any better, Hamilton said simply, "no." Asked about the possibility of not playing, Hamilton shook his head, smacked his name on the posted lineup card and said, "There I am, baby."

Hamilton wasn't bothered by his ailment or Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright's knuckleball. Hamilton took Wright deep twice for his first two home runs of the season that helped lead the Rangers to a 7-4 victory.

"I like facing knuckleball pitchers," Hamilton said. "One of the things you learn if you play the game long enough is the key is to slow it down, because it can get fast. Facing a knuckleballer helps you slow the game down and makes you focus harder because the ball is moving all around the place. He left them up and in. It felt good."

Hamilton smashed a 3-2 knuckleballer into the right-field seats to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It was tied at 2 into the bottom of the fourth when Hamilton put a 2-2 knuckleball almost in the same spot in the bleachers.

Hamilton's second homer

"There is no defense for a home run," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I think if we face another knuckleballer, I'm going to make sure he is in the game. Josh is so quick with the bat, he can watch the ball late, let it get deep and put a good pass on it."

The two home runs were the first by Hamilton since being activated off the disabled list on Monday, and he is now 5-for-18 after five games. He had two home runs after five games with the Angels in 2014, but Hamilton needed 11 games to get the first one in 2013.

"It is a sense of relief to get the first one out of the way," Hamilton said. "It's good to know I can still hit the ball out of the ballpark. It always helps the confidence. The key is not to get too excited, just go up there and have good at-bats."

Hamilton's first homer of 2015

This was the ninth time that Hamilton has hit two or more home runs in a game. The last time was on July 10, 2013, while with the Angels. The last time in Arlington was with the Rangers against the Angels on May 11, 2012.

"I haven't done anything really different besides practice a few things different in the cage," Hamilton said. "But as far as having fun, I've always tried to do that. It's easy to do that when you have 35,000 people screaming for you."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.