Counting Down The Texas Rangers' Greatest Single-Game Performances.
The Texas Rangers suffered in futility for most of their history, making only three playoff appearances in their first 49 years of existence and with one playoff win to show for it.
But over the past two seasons alone, they've attempted to atone for five decades of embarrassment by cramming in 50 years of magic moments into a spectacular 26-month span. There really have been some grand moments: Derek Holland pitching 8-1/3 innings of two-hit ball in game four of the '11 World Series; Yankee Stadium emptying in the 7th inning of a dominating 13-strikeout performance by Cliff Clee during game three of the '10 ALCS; Nelson Cruz following up his 7th inning game-tying home run in game two of the '11 ALCS with a walk-off grand slam.
All of these moments quickly come to mind as great ones in the history of the Rangers. But Josh Hamilton might have eclipsed them all last night, turning in not just the greatest single-game performance in Rangers history, but one of the best hitting displays in baseball history.
All four of Hamilton's record-tying home runs last night came with Elvis Andrus on base, giving him eight RBIs on the night. Add in the double he hit in the fifth inning, and he accumulated 18 total bases on the night — an American League record. He's now one of only 16 players have hit four home runs in a single game. To put that in perspective: 21 pitchers have thrown perfect games.
There's a good chance Rangers fans will never again see a performance like Hamilton's incredible act last night. So, to honor his legendary effort, let's count down some more of the most memorable single-game performances in Texas Rangers history.
10. Scot Sheldon
While facing the Chicago White Sox on September 6, 2000, infielder Scot Sheldon became just the third player in MLB history to play all nine positions in a single game. The highlight of his feats from that night came in the eighth inning, when he struck out Jeff Liefer. Granted, it's hard to think of anyone's performance on the wrong end of a 13-1 loss as heroic.
9. Al Oliver
Technically, Josh Hamilton was not the first Ranger to hit four home runs in a single day. Though not actually a single-game feat, Al Oliver hit four home runs in the course of a double-header against the Detroit Tigers on August 17, 1980, which is still pretty awesome.
8. Adrian Beltre
In his first season playing third base for the Rangers, Adrian Beltre proved to be a heavy contributor and an upgrade over the face of the franchise Michael Young, especially defensively. During game four of last year's ALDS against the Rays, Beltre put on a one-man clinic, becoming just the seventh player to hit three home runs in a playoff game, and the first to do so in a division series. Along with George Brett and Babe Ruth, he became just the third to hit three solo shots, making him the first person not named George to do so.
7. Ian Kinsler
On April 15, 2009, Ian Kinsler helped the Rangers rout the Orioles 19-6 by not only hitting a cycle, but adding in an extra single and double to boot. With his cycle-and-a-half Kinsler became the first person in over 109 years to go six for six and hit a cycle in the same game.
6. Charlie Hough
They just don't cut pitchers out of the same mold as they did a couple of decades ago. Pitch counts? Charlie Hough didn't need no pitch counts. After nine innings in a game on June 11, 1986 against the Minnesota Twins, the teams were still tied at two. No worries, though: Hough pitched four more innings, eventually striking out seven of the 47 batters he faced that night. No wonder he also holds the Rangers record for complete games, having pitched a whopping 98 of the suckers.
5. Pudge Rodriguez
How dominant was Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez's offensive performance on April 13, 1999? Enough so that the team record nine RBIs he racked up that night withheld even Hamilton's eight from last night. Even more impressive? He needed just three innings to do it (a three-run homer, a two-run single and a grand slam).
4. Bert Blyleven
In September 1977, Bert Blyleven became just the second Rangers pitcher to ever toss a no-hitter, marred only by a shortstop error and a walk to the 27th batter of the game. He still holds the record for most consecutive shutouts (three) and total shutouts (six) in franchise history.
3. Jose Canseco
Before last night, the greatest offensive night in Rangers history belonged to Jose Canseco. On June 13, 1994, Canseco went five for six with three home runs, a Hamilton-tying eight RBIs and a then-team record with 14 total bases. It was enough to make us nearly forget all about that home run that went off his head a year earlier. Well, almost.
2. Nolan Ryan
On May 1, 1991, Nolan Ryan extended his no-hitters record to seven. It would have been an impressive feat at any age, but, astoundingly enough, the Advil-fueled hurler was already 44. He remains the oldest pitcher to have ever thrown a no-hitter.
1B. Kenny Rogers
He may have needed the assistance of a pretty amazing Rusty Greer diving catch to complete the task, but on July 28, 1994, Kenny Rogers threw what was then only the 12th perfect game since 1900. During his flawless performance, Rogers struck out eight Angels in under 100 pitches.
1A. Nolan Ryan
Though he should have been, by all accounts, washed up by the time he signed with the Rangers, we nearly could have filled the list with the feats of Nolan Ryan. Our favorite, though, is one that doesn't show up in the record books — and it technically didn't contribute to a team victory, either. We're talking, of course, about the August 4, 1993, game in which the 46-year-old Ryan plunked then-20-year-old White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura with an errant pitch, and then proceeded to put him in a headlock steer-wrestling style and pummel him six times in the head. Somehow, Ryan managed to stay in the game after the incident, pitching hitless ball the rest of the way.