Hamilton's feat leaves everyone in awe

Hamilton's feat leaves everyone in awe

Hamilton's feat leaves everyone in awe
BALTIMORE -- As Josh Hamilton was putting on a performance for the ages, hitting four home runs in a game to match a Major League record and a double in five at-bats, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre had the best seats in the house.

The Rangers' Nos. 4 and 5 hitters had the privilege of watching from the on-deck circle as Hamilton stepped to the plate for the fifth time, sending his fourth long ball of the game over the center-field fence in Texas' 10-3 win over Baltimore on Tuesday.

"To see the fourth one go out was pretty cool," Young said. "We pretty much went ape."

Young called it "the most incredible individual performance" he's ever seen, but Beltre had a previous experience to rival it.

Total domination
With 18 total bases on his four-homer Tuesday, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton set the AL record.
Total Bases Player Team Opponent Date
19 Shawn Green Dodgers Brewers 5/23/2002
18 Josh Hamilton Rangers Orioles 5/8/2012
18 Joe Adcock Braves Dodgers 7/31/1954
17 Mike Schmidt Phillies Cubs 4/17/1976
17 Gil Hodges Dodgers Braves 8/31/1950

Beltre was batting ahead of the Dodgers' Shawn Green, who had a four-homer game vs. the Brewers on May 23, 2002. The only difference between then and Tuesday was that Green had six hits to Hamilton's five. Of course, Hamilton only had five at-bats.

"I was hoping we could go around again and see what he could do with his next at-bat," Beltre said. "I have no doubt he probably would've hit another one."

Nelson Cruz was equally wowed by the feat, saying it was hard to hit four home runs in 10 swings even in batting practice.

"The funny thing is he told me yesterday that he doesn't like it when he feels good in BP," Cruz said. "The last at-bat, he hit a homer, and today, he was kind of struggling in the cage. He's good when BP is bad. Tomorrow, he has to swing at balls in the dirt and pop up."

For as rare as the accomplishment was, some of the Rangers were practically expecting the fourth home run.

"After he hit the third one, I knew that if they would pitch to him his fifth at-bat that he was going to hit another one," outfielder David Murphy said. "I've never seen him that focused. His approach was perfect today."

Beltre said a major sign that the lefty-swinging Hamilton was locked in was that he hit one of his four blasts to left.

"You know something was up," Beltre said. "I expected him to hit it."

Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who was on the mound for Hamilton's first two home runs, said he and the rest of the pitching staff threw Hamilton too many hittable pitches, especially early in counts.

"He didn't miss tonight," Arrieta said. "You got to tip your cap to him, but we got to do a better job -- me especially -- making better pitches early in the count to him."

Hamilton's first home run came on the first pitch he saw: a 79-mph curveball from Arrieta, the first curve the O's starter threw in the game.

Young and Beltre both said they were impressed by Hamilton's ability to recognize the curveball and hit a homer off a pitcher Texas hadn't seen this season.

Arrieta tried to adjust, throwing three sinkers in Hamilton's next at-bat. But the result was the same, with Hamilton slamming a home run over the left-field fence.

"I went to the sink down and away and a good running fastball, and he's strong enough to put the good part of the bat [on it] and hit it to the opposite field," Arrieta said.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter only wished he could be viewing the accomplishment from a different perspective.

"I'd rather see it from a different dugout," Showalter said. "He's one of the best players in the game. You can see why."

Hamilton's 18 total bases set a new American League record. It's no wonder players and coaches on both sides were so awed by the feat.

"I don't know if we'll ever see something like that again," Young said.

Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.