Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Adrian Beltre delivers in the clutch
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's never an easy choice if you're the opposing manager these days against a deep and talented Texas Rangers' lineup.
So even after Adrian Beltre blasted a solo home run so far up Greene's Hill that it likely scared the folks inside the Batter's Eye Club -- normally a safe place at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to take his chances with Beltre twice with men in scoring position. He intentionally walked Josh Hamilton in the fourth and sixth innings, choosing instead to pitch to Beltre.
Adrian Beltre drove in three runs in the Rangers' 7-3 win, including his 441-foot home run to center field.
The first time it worked, as Beltre hit a fly ball to the outfield with the bases loaded in the fourth that didn't score anyone and the Yankees limited the damage. But in the sixth, Girardi tried it again and Beltre made him pay, hitting a single to score Ian Kinsler with the club's seventh run. Beltre accounted for three RBIs on the night, including that 441-foot shot to center. He also had an RBI single in the third after Hamilton was hit by a pitch to be put on in front of him.
Beltre wasn't surprised that Girardi figured he would take his chances with Beltre rather than Hamilton.
"Hamilton is probably the most dangerous player right now offensively," Beltre said. "I'm coming off a nagging hamstring and they were probably trying to get a double play there and I had never faced that guy before. I don't blame them. I try to be ready for any situation like that. There's no doubt I have to be on my game."
Girardi has employed this strategy before. He intentionally walked Hamilton three times in Game 6 of the ALCS and that eventually hurt him as Vladimir Guerrero came through as the hitter behind Hamilton.
Beltre gives the Rangers yet another powerful bat who can come through with clutch hits. And someone the club doesn't want to be without for any extended length of time. Beltre missed a few days with mild inflammation of his left hamstring, but he returned Tuesday. He was 0-for-3 then, but found his stroke Wednesday.
"I think that goes for any of us," leadoff hitter Kinsler said. "We don't want any of our guys to miss time. It takes a little bit of an adjustment if you have a guy in the middle of your lineup or someone you expect to swing the bat like that every day. Lucky we were able to get him back sooner rather than later."
Manager Ron Washington wasn't surprised that Girardi made the decisions he did with Hamilton to get to Beltre.
"We got Beltre, Michael, [Nelson] Cruz, [Mike] Napoli, [David] Murphy, [Mitch] Moreland," Washington said. "Pick your poison. He kept the ball in the big part of the field and did a good job for us. We certainly needed everything he gave us."