NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers follows through on a first inning two run single against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 16, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
One of the things I've been reading more often lately is how Adrian Beltre has cooled down. Beltre, I've been reading, has struggled since July 1, has not been carrying his weight, has failed to perform like a middle of the order hitter should. He's someone who has been pointed to as a player who needs to up his game down the stretch.
Which is why it was surprising to me that, when looking over the Rangers' performance the past week, and in particular, the team's three wins, the obvious choice for this week's "Charged for the Playoffs" highlight is the team's recently maligned All Star third baseman, Adrian Beltre.
The Rangers were 3-4 this past week, losing Friday at home to Detroit, winning the final two games of that series over the weekend, losing three in a row in New York, then pulling out the finale against the Yankees. Coincidentally or not, Adrian Beltre came up big in all three of the victories.
In Saturday's 2-1 victory, Beltre didn't have any runs scored or RBIs, but he did go 2 for 4 in the game, including a key two out single in the third inning against Justin Verlander, a hit that put Josh Hamilton in scoring position and extended the inning, setting the table for Nelson Cruz to drive Hamilton home with the Rangers' first run.
The Rangers won on Sunday against the Tigers, 8-3, and Beltre was at the plate in one of the weirder sequences of the season. With Elvis Andrus on second and Josh Hamilton on first, the pair executed a double steal, advancing successfully when the ball got away at the plate. An errant throw by catcher Alex Avila on that play then allowed Elvis to score and Hamilton to move on to third. Hamilton was then able to score later in the Beltre at bat on a wild pitch, before Beltre ultimately singled. His hit would have brought both runners in without the error and wild pitch, so if Beltre ends up two RBIs short of a milestone at the end of his career, you can blame Alex Avila.
Finally, yesterday, Beltre was the player of the game, going 2 for 3 with a pair of singles, a sac fly, and a HBP, scoring a pair of runs and driving in three. Perhaps more importantly, he put on a clinic in the field, making multiple highlight-caliber defensive plays at third base that helped hold the Yankees to "just" six runs and preserve what was ultimately a 10-6 Ranger victory.
With all the dynamic players on the Rangers' roster, Beltre sometimes gets overlooked, but this week, he deserves credit for being a key reason why the Rangers have a healthy lead in the A.L. West and look to be playoff bound.