The hits keep coming for Adrian Beltre, who with a single and a home run Sunday continued his climb of the career hits list at the expense of some of the game’s all-time greats.
The two hits on another wise lousy day for the Texas Rangers gave Beltre 2,937 in his career and moved him past Barry Bonds for 35th in baseball history.
Frank Robinson (2,943) is next.
Beltre remained 40th all time with his 445th career homer. He’d need a big week to catch Jeff Bagwell and Vlad Guerrero (both with 449) for 38th.
But 3,000 hits remains a lock, and the 500-homer plateau is getting more realistic.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 7-1 loss.
1. If there is a silver lining to Colby Lewis’ start Sunday, it’s that he got what he hopes is his last bad one out of the way before the postseason. He is also healthy, so there’s a second layer of lining.
His pitching was mostly healthy against the Oakland Athletics, a team he has had success against in his career. The A’s got him for seven runs in only 1 1/3 innings, which matched the shortest outing of his career. Most of the A’s hits weren’t very well struck, but a few were.
Lewis is in line to be the Rangers’ starter for Game 3 over the American League Division Series. He has made three starts since coming off the disabled list earlier this month and will have one more next weekend in the regular-season finale next Sunday.
He probably doesn’t have to convince anyone with the Rangers that he’s ready. They believe in him, but they’d probably believe in him more if he bounces back with five or six strong innings.
Naturally, Lewis said that he isn’t worried. Nothing much worries the veteran.
But in a weekend when Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish answered some questions about their playoff readiness, Lewis did not. At least not with results.
Martin Perez, who has made four straight quality starts, gets the ball Monday against Milwaukee. He might not appear in another game this season, with the Rangers possibly organizing a simulated game for his ALDS tune-up, or the left-hander could pitch in relief next weekend.
Then, it’s go time. Lewis isn’t worried despite what happened Sunday.
2. The Rangers are headed home for the final six games of the season, and it’s at home where they will attempt to secure home-field advantage.
They are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the AL at 92-64. The Red Sox have won 11 straight games.
The Rangers have the tiebreaker at the moment. The two teams split the first tiebreaker, the head-to-head season matchup, at 3-3. The next tiebreaker is division record, and the Rangers finished play against the AL West at 47-29.
Boston finishes the season with six games against AL East foes and would have to go 6-0 against the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays to win the second tiebreaker if the teams end up tied after 162 games.
But just how important is home-field advantage? The Rangers would have liked to play Game 5 of the ALDS last season at home instead of at Toronto. The Rangers, though, have won only one ALDS home game in franchise history.
The Rangers opened the AL Championship Series at home in 2010 and 2011 with home-field advantage. They split in 2010, losing Game 1 before clinching at home in Game 6, and won all three home games in 2011.
It’s important, of course, and it remains the Rangers’ top priority over the final week of the season.
3. The bullpen was forced into action early after Lewis’ second-inning exit, and it was a banner day for a group of pitchers who have only pitched when the Rangers have trailed this month.
Except for Derek Holland.
The left-hander made his first relief appearance since 2014, working a scoreless fifth inning. As manager Jeff Banister said on Saturday, if Holland is going to make the roster for the ALDS, he will have to do so as a reliever.
He looked fine for an inning and possibly would have pitched more had the score been 7-5 instead of 7-0. Holland certainly has the ability to log multiple innings. He has the ability to complete shut down an opponent.
Holland replaced Nick Martinez, who has found a nice niche as a long reliever. The right-hander worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday as the Rangers rallied past Anaheim and added another 2 2/3 scoreless frames against the A’s.
If the Rangers go with eight relievers and want to use Holland only as a situational lefty rather than a multi-innings reliever, maybe there’s a spot for Martinez. At this point, it seems like it’s possible.
Assuming Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Keone Kela, Matt Bush, Tony Barnette and Jeremy Jeffress are good to go, that would leave two spots in an eight-man bullpen. Banister said on Saturday that would be his preference.
Holland and Martinez could certainly be the final two. Alex Claudio, Dario Alvarez and Tanner Scheppers are also in that mix.
The Rangers could use them often this week.