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Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre was just 1-11 entering Tuesday afternoon’s ALDS Game 4 match with the Tampa Bay Rays, but by the time the game was over, Beltre had put his name alongside the likes of Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Beltre became the sixth Major Leaguer to hit three home runs in a single playoff game to propel the Rangers to a 4-3 victory and a second consecutive trip to the ALCS.
The Rangers other run was their first run, a lead off home run by Ian Kinsler off of Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the 1st inning. One frame later, Beltre crushed one deep into the left field seats for a 2-0 Rangers lead. The Rays got the run right back in their half of the 2nd inning when Matt Joyce doubled off Texas starter Matt Harrison to score Sean Rodriguez from first base. Joyce was stranded in scoring position though when Harrison struck out Desmond Jennings for his third K of the inning. (Harrison would strike out nine batters in just five innings and earned the win.)
Beltre extended the lead back to two runs when he hit a Hellickson fastball the opposite way in the 4th. The pugnacious Rays again answered back with a two out rally in the bottom of the fourth with Rodriguez was once again at the heart of things. The Rays’ shortstop doubled and scored on Casey Kotchman’s single to center. But Harrison won a rematch with Joyce with an inning ending strikeout.
Left-hander Matt Moore, who was so dominant in Game 1 of the series, allowed just one hit in three innings of relief in Game 4. But that one hit was courtesy of Beltre, who turned on a Moore high hanger and sent it three rows deep into the left field seats. In addition to the Bambino (1926,1928) and Mr. October (1977), Bob Robertson (1971), George Brett (1978), and Adam Kennedy (2002) are the others to hit three home runs in one post-season series. Beltre became the first player to accomplish the feat in a division series.
Texas manager Ron Washington called on his bullpen in the 6th and was rewarded when Derek Holland, Mike Adams, and Alexi Ogando combined to put up a trio of zeroes on the scoreboard. Things weren’t so easy, however, for closer Neftali Feliz in the 9th. Rodriguez set the table again with a one out walk and moved to second on defensive indifference. Kotchman then came through with another RBI single to cut the Rangers lead to a single run with just one out.
But with the tying run on first, Feliz rebounded to retire Joyce on a foul pop and then got Desmond Jennings to hit into a series ending force out.
The Rangers-Rays series trend continued. Of the nine games the two teams played in the 2010 and 2011 ALDS series, the home team only won one game – Game 2 in Texas this year.
The Rangers will either begin the ALCS on the road in New York or at home against Detroit, depending on the outcome of the Yankees-Tigers division series.
Drew Sarver is a senior writer for BaseballDigest.com. You can also read his work at his blog, My Pinstripes. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter at @BD_Sarver and @MyPinstripes.
Topics: Adam Kennedy, Adrian Beltre, Alds Game, Babe Ruth, Beltre Powers, Bob Robertson, casey kotchman, Consecutive Trip, Derek Holland, Game 1, George Brett, Heart Of Things, Jeremy Hellickson, Major Leaguer, Matt Harrison, Matt Joyce, Oga, Playoff Game, reggie jackson, Strikeout, Tampa Bay Rays, Third Baseman