Adrian Beltre again the game-changer
August, 20, 2013
By Todd Wills | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The way Adrian Beltre is going these days, he's practically begging teams to intentionally walk him.
Because when they don't, he makes 'em pay.
Beltre was the hitting star again for the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night, flipping the game in his team's favor thanks to a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. It put the Rangers ahead, 3-2, a lead the bullpen held onto as Texas moved to 20 games over .500 for the first time this season.
AP Photo/Jim Cowsert
How much does Adrian Beltre's bat affect the game? The Astros intentionally walked him in his first two at-bats Monday. They let him swing away Tuesday, and he hit a two-run homer in the sixth for what proved the game-winning scores.
Beltre, who is batting .406 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in August after being named the American League Player of the Month in July, was asked about his latest heroics. The Rangers have a spectacular 21-3 record this season when he hits one over the fence.
"This is what I'm supposed to be doing, right?" Beltre said.
The Astros intentionally walked Beltre in his first two at-bats Monday night -- a 16-5 Rangers victory -- the first time that's happened to a Texas hitter since 1979.
Houston let the Rangers All-Star third baseman swing the bat in all four of his trips to the plate on Tuesday.
In Astros manager Bo Porter's defense, the circumstances didn't allow for an obvious intentional walk. Beltre led off the bottom of the second with a double and scored on Alex Rios' infield single to cut Houston's lead to 2-1.
Beltre came up in the bottom of the sixth with one out and Ian Kinsler on first after he walked. Porter could have put the tying run on second base by intentionally walking Beltre -- bringing A.J. Pierzynski up -- but that would have been an unconventional move.
Don't be surprised to see something like that late in the season. Beltre was able to connect on a hanging breaking ball from rookie Jarred Cosart and drilled it into the right-field seats. In the third inning, Beltre had just missed a home run on a deep drive to the 377-foot sign in right-center field.
"It was a good pitch to hit," Beltre said. "He had a good fastball and the fastball had been cutting. I was looking for something up and away because his pitches were going that way."
As usual, Beltre left his teammates speechless.
"He can impact the game in so many ways," Pierzynski said. "There's not many like him."
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Baltimore's Chris Davis seem to be the clear-cut favorites in the American League Most Valuable Player race, but don't sleep on Beltre.
His 160 hits this season are one behind Cabrera for the AL lead. He has 26 home runs and 78 RBIs and plays excellent defense at third base.
Maybe it's not Cabrera's 40 homers and 120 RBIs, or Davis's 45 jacks and 115 RBIs, but what Beltre means to his team can't be measured entirely by statistics.
Don't forget Beltre, or at least start making someone else beat you.
"The only way I can really describe it is he's an MVP," Kinsler said. "He's having an MVP-caliber season. He's one of the best players in the league on one of the best teams. He does it night in and night out."