NEW YORK -- Josh Hamilton struck out in his fourth plate appearance in Sunday afternoon's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. That kept him from setting a LCS record for most walks in one game."If I had known I could have gotten the record, I would have swung less in that fourth at-bat," Hamilton said during Sunday's workout at Yankee Stadium. Hamilton ended up walking four times in Game 2 -- two walks were intentional -- marking the 15th time that a player has walked four times in a postseason game. It's the third time in an ALCS that a player has drawn four walks. Hamilton is just 3-for-23 in the playoffs, including a three-run homer in Game 1 of the ALCS, but teams are still wary of pitching to him. He has seven walks, so although he is hitting .130 with a .261 slugging percentage, he has a .333 on-base percentage. It's part of his approach of trying to take what the opponent gives him rather than being too aggressive and swinging at bad pitches. That approach allowed him to win the AL batting title with a club-record .359 average. "I'm coming to the reality that this is the way it's going to be," Hamilton said. "I'm taking what they give me. If they don't want to give me anything, I'll do what I did yesterday and pass it along to the next guy. It's important whether [Vladimir Guerrero] gets it done or [Nelson Cruz] gets it done. It's important to have one less out to deal with." Manager Ron Washington has no problems if opposing pitchers want to pitch around Hamilton.
"They can keep not pitching to him," Washington said. "Vlad will bust their tails. Plus, if Hamilton gets on base, he can steal the next bag. He can hurt them in other ways. Keep walking him and keep giving Vlad opportunities."But Guerrero is hitting .214 (6-for-28) with just one double and one RBI in seven playoff games, while Cruz is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with three home runs in the postseason. Ian Kinsler, hitting in the No. 6 hole, leads the Rangers with seven RBIs in the playoffs. But Washington remains confident that Guerrero will break out soon. "Very confident," he said. "It's just a matter of one pitch. One swing of the bat can unlock whatever demons are there." The opposition's respect for Hamilton comes at a time when he is still dealing with the pain and discomfort of two small fractures in his left ribcage. Hamilton injured the ribs falling into a wall in center field on Sept. 4 at Target Field in Minnesota. He was sidelined until the final three games of the regular season and still doesn't feel 100 percent. Even so, he goes all out. He has four stolen bases in the playoffs, one fewer than leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus. The two combined on a double steal that allowed Andrus to swipe home in the first inning on Sunday afternoon. "I adapt," Hamilton said. "If you notice, I have dirt marks on one side of my body and not the other. I'm not intentionally doing that, but I'm doing it nonetheless." Both Hamilton and Andrus had two stolen bases in Game 2. That's only the 10th time in the postseason that two teammates have had at least two stolen bases in a playoff game.
Hamilton is in pain, but he remains a threat in multiple ways.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.