BALTIMORE — Moments before he made history with his final swing in an incredible four-homer performance, Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate in the eighth inning with a surprising sense of calm.
The Texas Rangers slugger had never before hit more than two home runs in a game, and he already had three. So as he took his place in the batter’s box against Baltimore right-hander Darren O’Day, Hamilton already had a feeling of accomplishment.
“I just went up like it was any other at-bat because if I don’t hit one,” Hamilton reasoned, “I’ve still had a really good night.”
It turned out to be unforgettable.
Hamilton became the 16th player to hit four home runs in a game, launching a quartet of two-run drives against three different pitchers to carry the Rangers to a 10-3 victory Tuesday.
Hamilton homered off Jake Arrieta in the first and third innings, added another off Zach Phillips in the seventh and topped it off with a one-for-the-books shot against O’Day. During the last at-bat, Hamilton took a mighty hack and missed, lined a foul into the right-field seats and then sent an 0-2 pitch over the center-field wall.
“Obviously it’s, other than being in the World Series, the highlight of my big-league career,” he said. “I was saying after I hit two I’ve never hit three in a game before, and what a blessing that was. Then to hit four is just an awesome feeling, to see how excited my teammates got.
“It reminds you of when you’re in Little League and a little kid, and just the excitement and why we play the game. Things like that. You never know what can happen. It was just an absolute blessing.”
Hamilton also doubled in the fifth inning. His 18 total bases is a new single-game American League record, and his eight RBI are a career high.
Elvis Andrus, who got on base ahead of Hamilton in each instance, said, “He kept hitting bombs and bombs. It feels really good because I don’t have to run that hard to score.”
Hamilton leads the AL with 14 homers and 36 RBI, and his 5 for 5 effort raised his batting average to .406.