ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 26: Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers is greeted by teammates after hitting the game winning homerun against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 26, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
The legend of Hambino only grew on Saturday, as his heroics overshadowed a series of questionable tactical decisions by Ron Washington in the extra innings of the Rangers 8-7 victory over the Blue Jays.
At this point, is there anything Josh Hamilton can't do?
After the Texas Rangers defense gave up two unearned runs in the top of the 13th inning to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 7-5 lead, Elvis Andrus drove in Ian Kinsler to give Hamilton a chance to drive in the winning run.
Jason Frasor, facing his first batter of the game, wasn't up to the challenge. On a 1-2 count, he served up a hanging change-upon the outside part of the plate. Hamilton, timing the ball perfectly, crushed the ball over the center-field fence to give Texas a dramatic 8-7 victory.
Hamilton's heroics will likely overshadow some controversial decisions by Ron Washington in extra innings. The two previous times through the order in the same situation, Washington called for a sacrifice bunt from Andrus, moving Kinsler over and leaving Toronto an open base to pitch to the Rangers' MVP candidate.
The dramatic finish in the bottom of the 13th wouldn't have been possible without Andrus' double, a scenario that Washington ensured couldn't happen in either the 9th or the 11th. Andrus, now in his fourth MLB season, is no longer a defensive specialist. His .303/.384/.404 stat-line doesn't exactly scream a guy who should be giving up outs in the extra innings.
Washington's aggressive, small-ball approach on the base-paths has long had its detractors. While sabermetricians have preached the importance of sacrificing outs, Washington has always preferred a more aggressive, small-ball approach to manufacturing runs late in games.
As a 60-year old manager whose been employed in some capacity in baseball since 1970, he seems pretty much set in his ways, particularly when it comes to his philosophy of how to play the game. Come October, his philosophy could be a huge storyline, one way or the other.
There were several other interesting story-lines tucked away in the longest game of the Rangers regular season so far: three consecutive solo HR's from Adrian Beltre, Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland in the 6th inning, five scoreless innings from the bullpen and Washington pinch-hitting for Moreland in the 10th inning for the slumping Mike Napoli.
But, at the end of the day, Hamilton's towering walk-off HR will be the only thing people will remember from this game. These are the things Texas fans will tell their grandchildren about: the best player in baseball, and one of the most talented players to ever play the game, regularly producing Herculean efforts for the best team in baseball.