Texas Rangers slugger Adrian Beltre just keeps doing his job.
No matter the situation, no matter the standings, the third baseman keeps chugging along, doing his thing, which has been about the only consistently reliable offensive force in the Rangers’ lineup in 2014.
He was at it again on Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels, a team he has owned during his stellar career.
That Beltre went 4 for 4 with two RBIs in the Rangers’ 5-4 loss in front of a paid attendance of 31,465 at Globe Life Park is another perfect encapsulation of the Rangers’ season.
As a club-record 57 players have come in and out of the Rangers’ clubhouse during this injury-laden season, Beltre has remained a stoic veteran, playing nearly every night and remaining in the top 10 in batting average, which he raised to .321 on Friday.
After collecting his fourth single of the night to pull Texas to within 5-4 in the eighth inning, Beltre, 35, made a textbook slide into second to break up a double play, taking down shortstop Erick Aybar, to keep the Rangers’ rally alive.
“That’s the way you play baseball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “If he doesn’t do that they may turn the double play. But that’s the way you play, and Adrian exemplifies that every single day.”
Beltre’s value during this lost season has been immeasurable as a guide for the young players who’ve come through the Rangers’ clubhouse this season.
His handling of a loss, despite his nice day at the plate, is just another in a long line of attributes his young teammates should emulate.
When asked about his second four-hit night of the season, he shrugged it off and genuinely explained how it means little without a victory.
“Of course,” he said. “I’ll take a win over anything.”
While the offense continues to scuffle during this 1-4 homestand in which Texas has been outscored 30-9, Beltre snapped out of a 1 for 11 mini-slump with his 10th game with three or more hits this season.
“It’s easy to learn the game from your peers and he’s a tremendous example of how you play the game, how you grind the game, how you treat the game, how you respect the game,” Washington said. “Adrian is all of that and he brings it every single day. It’s certainly a good thing that, in the situation we’re in, to have a professional on the team like him.”
Rangers starter Nick Martinez (2-9) allowed four runs on six hits in six innings. His one mistake was Kole Calhoun’s 413-foot, three-run homer to the right-field upper deck that gave the Angels a 4-1 lead in the fifth.
“I think I made good pitches to most of the hitters except for Calhoun,” said Martinez, who struck out six and walked one. “I attacked the heart of the lineup the right way and limited the damage, just bad at-bats to Calhoun.”
The Rangers’ eighth-inning rally, which started with consecutive one-out singles from Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus before Mike Carp and Beltre each singled in runs, fizzled when Geovany Soto grounded out with two runners on.
“We weren’t able to finish the job,” Beltre said. “Obviously, it feels good when you’re trying to come back and had some good at-bats but it’s always nicer when you come back and hopefully win it. It’s never good enough if you don’t win the ball game.”