When Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate in the first inning with a runner on first base, he had 599 career doubles, and 2,971 hits. He took a strike, then a ball, then waited patiently as Red Sox starter David Price threw over to first base to check on Elvis. Then again, then a third time. Beltre swung and missed at the next pitch, then fouled off three of the next four pitches before finally connecting. The ball hit the left field wall before it came down, and when it did, Beltre was en route to second base. Six hundred doubles. Two thousand nine hundred and seventy two hits. The fans at the top of the second deck in left field removed the McDonald’s-sponsored “2971” sign and replaced it. “2972”
Beltre didn’t come to bat again until the fourth inning. This time, he only watched one pitch before he scorched a low liner that landed near second base on its way to center field. 43,267 fans stood to their feet. Five stayed standing, new sign in hands: “2973”. Beltre stood at first and joked with the first baseman, former teammate Mitch Moreland. They jokingly shoved and pushed each other as they jostled for position. It was a moment of sentimental levity in a game that had already grown dire for Rangers fans.
In the sixth, with Price still in the game, Beltre watched as the first pitch caught the inside corner of the plate for a called strike, then another one hug the outside corner for strike two. The third pitch tried to split those uprights, and Beltre swatted it away, directing it into shallow right field for his third hit of the night. The crowd, either undeterred by the score, or fans of the visiting team, had not thinned much at all by then, and they cheered lustily as the future Hall-of-Famer eased around first and again greeted Moreland.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Beltre did not swing the bat at all. He watched four pitches, the last two of which found, again, the outside and inside corners of the plate. This time, it was not Price pitching but rather reliever Blaine Boyer who allowed those left field fans to keep their seats. For a moment anyway. Carlos Gomez and Rougned Odor each singled on the first pitches they saw from Boyer, and Mike Napoli–after taking one strike–followed with a monster home run into the Boston bullpen to put Texas on the board.
Beltre did not get a hit in the ninth inning either, after Delino DeShields' solo home run brough Texas to their 4-run total for the evening. He did foul off four consecutive pitches, the last of which was barely foul as it screamed down the third base line.
This has been a readable story about some of the goings-on from Globe Life Park on Tuesday night. You can stop reading here, or you can carry on, but beware: if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further. For death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth.
The Red Sox won the game 11-4. It was a ghastly performance on all fronts, as Yu Darvish lasted just 4⅓ innings, allowing 8 runs on 11 hits. By the time the game was over, the Red Sox would have a total of 19 hits off Darvish and Nick Martinez. That 11-hit mark, by the way, tied a career high for Darvish, matching his performance from August 6th, 2012 in… Boston.
Andrew Benintendi was a monster tonight, going 5-for-5 with two home runs, the last of which was the front half of a back-to-back combo with Jackie Bradley, Jr. on consecutive pitches in the 8th inning. He also made this catch.
Benintendi, if you want this to sting a little harder, was the 7th pick of the 2015 MLB draft. The Rangers, having endured a dreadful 2014 season, had the fifth pick in that draft. They selected Dillon Tate. Tate was traded to the Yankees last season for Carlos Beltran. Beltran hit .280 with 7 home runs in his 52 regular-season games as a Ranger, but hit just .182 with 1 RBI and no extra-base hits in the ALDS.
Enjoy your fireworks!