ANAHEIM -- Twice on Sunday -- with a man on third and two outs in the seventh, and with none on and two outs in the 12th -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland opted to walk Albert Pujols and pitch to Josh Hamilton. Another time, with the game tied in the 10th, he pitched to Hamilton with lefty Phil Coke, then intentionally walked Mark Trumbo behind him.
Hamilton's message: "Do it while you can."
The Angels got back on track this weekend, sweeping the defending American League champs thanks to a series-capping walk-off homer by Trumbo. But Hamilton is still searching for success with his former team coming to town. He hit a couple of hard line drives to the outfield on Sunday, but they were outs. The next two times, he struck out with the winning run on base. And through his first 17 games, he's batting .176, with 23 strikeouts in 68 at-bats.
The next time the Tigers play the Angels, Leyland said, "Hamilton will probably be on fire."
The Angels' right fielder can't figure out why it isn't happening now.
"I feel good, man," Hamilton said. "I've felt good for a while. I don't know. The only way I can describe it is baseball -- baseball is baseball. It just proves to you you can barrel it up and do everything right and feel good, and hit it right at people, and then you can work the worst at-bat of your life and roll one through the hole. I mean, it's nothing I'm doing different. We've looked at video, doing drills and things like that. There's nothing different than the first two months of last season. Everything's the same."
Hamilton is used to being the one intentionally walked. Each of the last two years, he led the Rangers in that department with 13 per season. But for valid reasons, the man in front of him has already been issued five free passes -- three of them by Texas on April 6.
Hamilton's message to Pujols: "Don't start expanding your zone because I'm struggling. I had good at-bats today, felt good at the plate. It's coming. Just stick to your game plan, get on base, and it'll happen."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.