Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 4/6/13
ARLINGTON, Texas Nobody knows what a Josh Hamilton slump looks like better than the Texas Rangers. That's why the Rangers intentionally walked Albert Pujols, batting in front of Hamilton, three times on Saturday. Hamilton failed to deliver all three times the Rangers issued a free pass to Pujols. He struck out twice and flied out to left, dropping to 1-for-20 for the season with 10 strikeouts. Then again, it's usually a good idea to walk Pujols, who homered both times he wasn't walked in an 8-4 Angels victory. Walking Pujols wasn't showing a lack of respect to Hamilton, Rangers manager Ron Washington said. It was just good strategy. "You know Hamilton is not swinging the bat well," said Washington. "We had some left-handers out there and we just went for the matchup. Each time we didn't walk him, you saw what happened." Hamilton didn't address the media after the game, having already conducted two press conferences the day before in his return to Arlington. But he said he didn't feel slighted in quotes issued from the training room. "I think it was a smart move," said Hamilton, who signed with the Angels in the offseason after five years in Texas. "Albert dominated today, obviously. If I was in the situation, I'd do the same thing." Hamilton was booed again Saturday by Rangers fans, although not as vehemently as on Friday. It was a continuation of the booing Hamilton received in his final game as a Ranger after a horrendous slump and defensive lapses in the second half of 2012. Hamilton further infuriated Rangers fans by saying Dallas-Fort Worth wasn't a "true baseball town" after signing with the Angels. He's now 0-for-8 with four strikeouts in the series. He recorded the last out of the inning three times Saturday, but said geography had nothing to do with his struggles at the plate. "If I was somewhere else, the same thing would be going on," Hamilton said. "It'll get better." Pujols became the first player in American League history, and the third in major league history, to have two home runs and three intentional walks in the same game. Pujols also knows what it's like to start a season with a new team in a profound slump. After his own glacial start to 2012, Pujols isn't concerned about Hamilton's struggles. "There's only five games in the season," Pujols said. "Let the guy settle down and see a month from now. You guys talked a lot about me and I proved a lot of people wrong." Still, it was a rare sight to see someone intentionally walked in order to pitch to Hamilton. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time it happened was June 20, 2010. In all, there had been six previous situations in which the batters in front of Hamilton were intentionally walked. Hamilton was 2-for-6 with two strikeouts in those instances. On Saturday, Hamilton's two strikeouts after Pujols' free passes stranded two baserunners each time. His final fly-out after Pujols was walked also came with two runners on, but was the second out of the inning. "I think he understands at times you're going to be feeling for some stuff. He was the second half of last year, a little bit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But there's not many people as confident as Josh when you talk about his talent, what he can do. He's going to put it together." Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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