ARLINGTON, Texas ‘ Josh Hamilton picked a bad time to reprise his role as unstoppable killing machine.
Only two months after narrowly escaping a season-long suspension following a drug relapse with the Angels, Hamilton was up to his old tricks with the Rangers on Friday night, smashing a pair of home runs off knuckleballer Steven Wright that proved the difference in Boston’s 7-4 loss.
Hamilton used to destroy the Red Sox with regularity ‘ his 2012 home run in Fenway off of Mark Melancon still hasn’t come down ‘ but he only made his 2015 debut in Thursday’s series opener.
Two games are apparently all he needed to find the range, and his blasts were too much for the inconsistent Red Sox offense to overcome.
Fresh off a galvanizing 5-1 victory on Thursday in Eduardo Rodriguez’s debut, the Red Sox squandered any chance to build momentum by stranding XX runners and hitting into a pair of Rusney Castillo double plays.
That made a loser of Wright, who is fighting to maintain his spot in the rotation with the Red Sox carrying an extra starter through the next turn. He didn’t pitch horribly, limiting the Rangers to three hits in 5 2/3 innings, but two of them left the park, and that was enough.
Wright gave the Red Sox enough to win, but they were stymied by Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, whom they stroked 10 hits against during a 4-3 win in Boston on May 19.
This time, Gallardo limited them to four hits and just one earned run in six innings, striking out five.
The killer inning was the fourth, when a single, walk, and error loaded the bases with no outs. Xander Bogaerts put a charge into one, but it went as a long sacrifice fly to deep right. Catcher Blake Swihart followed with a game-tying single to left that put runners on the corners, but Castillo grounded sharply into the first of his two double plays.
Hamilton then homered with two outs in the bottom of the frame, and that was the ballgame.
The Red Sox tried to mount a rally in the eighth, with Hanley Ramirez‘s two-run homer drawing them within a run, but the bullpen gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the frame.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Josh Hamilton entered the game a lifetime .309 hitter against the Red Sox with a eight homers and a .908 OPS, and he improved on all of those numbers with his two homers. He has now driven in 53 runs against the Red Sox in 56 career starts. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘ Catcher Blake Swihart continues to come along offensively. His opposite-field single tied the game in the fourth.
‘ Center fielder Mookie Betts stole his seventh base in eight tries in the eighth, and was also robbed of a hit by a leaping Leonys Martin against the center field fence.
‘ Shortstop Xander Bogaerts allowed everyone to breathe a sigh of relief by returning to the lineup one night after getting hit in the wrist.
‘ Left fielder Hanley Ramirez smashed his second home run in as many nights, a two-run opposite field blast in the eighth.
‘ At Triple A Pawtucket, left-hander Brian Johnson tossed six perfect innings in a 1-0 win against Louisville before being lifted for pitch count reasons at just 74 pitches. Like Rodriguez, Johnson could end up giving the rotation a boost before the season is through.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘ Rusney Castillo grounded into a pair of inning-ending double plays to kill rallies.
‘ Asked to keep the deficit at 3-2, reliever Alexi Ogando allowed three hits and two runs. His night could’ve been even worse, but he picked Mitch Moreland off second after a leadoff double, a call that was only made after consulting the replay.
‘ Relievers Craig Breslow and Matt Barnes combined to allow four hits and two runs in the eighth after the Red Sox had pulled within a run.
‘ First baseman Mike Napoli and manager John Farrell were ejected after arguing balls and strikes with home plate ump Todd Tichenor, who also ejected Jason Varitek and Terry Francona in the same game in Minnesota in 2009.