Beltre gets best of buddy Felix Hernandez

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
7:08
PM CT
SEATTLE -- Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has seven home runs in his last eight games, but none sweeter than the blast Sunday against his old buddy, Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.

Beltre hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, all the runs the Rangers would need in a 3-0 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

And Beltre made sure to tell his former teammate, the 2010 Cy Young winner, all about it as he rounded third base heading for home.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesAdrian Beltre hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Felix Hernandez.
"It was nice because he’s always talking smack to me," Beltre said of Hernandez. "We talk smack to each other and he’s had my number. So I told him all I wanted to do was take him deep, and finally I did it."

Beltre had struck out five times in eight at-bats (and only one single) this season against Hernandez before the shot over the wall in left center Sunday.

"It was a fastball, two-seamer I think, middle down," Beltre said. "It was 0-2, a stupid pitch (he said smiling). The thing about Felix is he’s nasty. He doesn’t leave many pitches over the heart of the plate, and even when he does, it’s moving everywhere. So it’s not easy to square him up.

"Today he left one over the plate and I didn’t miss it, so I was talking smack to him."

Beltre almost had a second homer Sunday in the eighth off reliever Shawn Kelley, when he launched a towering fly ball to the warning track in center that Michael Saunders caught near the 405-foot sign.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said Beltre has taken up right where he left off before spending five weeks on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

"He was swinging the bat very well before he got hurt," Washington said. "And no telling what his numbers would look like if he hadn’t have missed those 30-something days. That’s how good he’s been for us all year, but once the second half started he’s just been killing the baseball."

And Washington wasn’t surprised to see Beltre giving Hernandez a hard time after the big homer Sunday.

"They’re always jawin’ at each other when they face each other," Washington said. "Felix put a ball in the wrong spot today and Beltre got it."

Beltre looks healthy again, but he was asked Sunday if his hamstring is 100 percent now.

"I’m good enough to be in the field," he said.

And obviously, good enough to be at the plate.

"I’ve been lucky," he said. "My swing is getting back and I’ve been more consistent at the plate. But I have to fight through it every time I come [to Safeco].

"I never do good on this field for some reason. I fought through it today and [Saturday] and only got two hits, but they were two big ones. I’ll take that."

Beltre homered off the upper-deck facade in Saturday’s 7-6 victory. He has 27 homers and 94 RBIs this season, but his only concern at the moment is to get the division title clinched before going to Anaheim for the finals three regular season games. The Rangers are 4 1/2 games up with nine to play.

"We are comfortable we can do our job, but it’s not done yet," Beltre said. "I think our goal is not to give the Angels a chance when we go back to LA. We don’t want them to a have a chance to do something crazy."

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.88 154 122
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .328
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .899
ERAY. Darvish 2.88
SOY. Darvish 154