Tuesday, October 25, 2011
On one knee, Adrian Beltre swings big
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Third baseman Adrian Beltre flashed his brilliant leather once again on the first play of the game to rob Rafael Furcal of a lead-off double for the second consecutive game.
But it was in the sixth inning that Beltre left jaws agape, dropping to one knee and crushing an off-speed offering from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter to tie Game 5. It set the stage for Mike Napoli's heroics in the eighth as the Rangers closed out their 2011 home season with a dramatic 4-2 win for a 3-2 lead in the World Series.
For Beltre, it was a long overdue blast. He connected three times in the Game 4 clincher over the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS and he hadn't hit one since.
Carpenter made one mistake in the third inning to Mitch Moreland and then Beltre followed the breaking pitch, waited, waited, followed it all the way to knee level before dropping to a knee and taking a windmill swing to launch it out of the park.
"He’s not a guy that leaves a lot of pitches over the plate," Beltre said of Carpenter. "He threw me a couple breaking balls on the last at bat. When I saw it was a breaking ball, I was able to stay back and try to put a good swing on it."
Beltre is hitting .286 in the postseason, but he also has had a difficult time making contact with a team-high 16 strikeouts. This from a guy who hit 12 homers in a 15-game stretch in September. Those strikeouts are in the past and all Beltre is focused on now is doing the job to help himself and the Rangers win a first World Series title.
He's been flashing the glove throughout, and his now bat, flaming hot to end the regular season, is heating up, too.
"I’ve been waiting 14 years for this," Beltre said. "It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been on teams that haven’t been too good and I’ve been on teams that have been in the postseason but got out of it quick. Being in this situation now, so close, you just want to get it over with and get one more win."