Yes, Adrian Beltre collected his 3,000th career hit nearly two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped climbing all those various career lists.
He moved up a couple more Friday night.
Double No. 606 moved him past Paul Molitor and into a tie for 13th with Paul Waner.
That extra-base him moved him into a tie with Eddie Murray for 19th with 1,099.
His two hits in the game gave him 3,010 and a tie with Wade Boggs for 28th all time.
Next up in career total bases is Lou Gehrig. Beltre, with 5,058, is two away from the Iron Horse.
Molitor, Waner, Murray, Boggs, Gehrig. Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer.
Beltre. Future Hall of Famer.
Here’s some lefty-heavy Rangers Reaction from a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros.
1. The Astros didn’t have Carlos Correa on Friday and won’t have him for a few more weeks, but the lineup they ran out there still could hold its own.
At the very least, it was better than the nine the Minnesota Twins trotted out last weekend. Cole Hamels dominated the Twins, tossing a complete game, and followed it up with seven scoreless against Houston.
It wasn’t the walk in the park that he had at Target Field, as the Twins swung early and often at his offerings. He needed only 96 pitches for his first complete game since the 2015 regular-season finale.
Hamels threw 98 pitches against the Astros, who didn’t chase many pitches just off the plate. But the effectiveness was still there for a second straight start.
For a team that no longer has Yu Darvish but continues to have playoff hopes, that’s a significant sign moving forward.
“Just from what I was able to get done last week and just continuing that with the bullpen and the past couple days and just keeping the same mindset,” Hamels said. “Just throw strikes. Sometimes it will surprise you.”
Another encouraging sign: Hamels’ left knee appears to be OK after it was drilled in the fourth inning by a hard grounder by Jose Altuve that went as the Astros’ first hit. Hamels went to the ground and hobbled around, but stayed in the game after a few warm-up tosses.
He also had to get the feeling back in the knee, which he compared to hitting his funny bone. Only a lot more painful.
“I’m not the biggest, most muscular guy,” Hamels said. “There’s not a lot of muscle down there. It definitely hit the bone. When that happens, you get that numbing sensation, and you just have to walk it off until you get the feeling back.”
2. Oh, yeah. The Astros’ lineup still includes Altuve, the front-runner to be the American League MVP and the last person the Rangers wanted to see batting in the ninth inning with the game on the line.
So, naturally, Altuve batted in the ninth inning with the game on the line after consecutive two-out singles against Alex Claudio.
Matt Bush was ready to enter the game when manager Jeff Banister came out of the dugout. Altuve, a right-handed hitter, entered Friday batting .346 against lefties, but that was 24 points less than he fared against righties.
Still, the Astros seemed to have a good plan for Claudio, who hadn’t had his typical low-count, quick-outs outing. He thought Bush was coming in the game. Bush thought he was coming in the game, going so far has to walk down the bullpen steps that lead to the field.
But Banister stuck with Claudio, who jumped ahead 0-2 on Altuve but was in a 3-2 count when he threw a changeup that completely froze the diminutive second baseman.
Alex Claudio, soft-tossing Frisbee thrower, now appears entrenched as the Rangers’ closer. If he’s not, he’s definitely their best reliever.
“We know Altuve hits velo very well,” Banister said. “We felt like, in that situation, Claudio has been our best groundball guy, he’s been our best strike-thrower out of the bullpen, the mix of pitches. He’s got guts. I love everything about him. It was his ballgame.”
Alex Claudio, the Rangers’ Pitcher of the Year? In a season that has been wrecked by a lousy bullpen, he has a case. Maybe not the best case, but it’s an interesting one.
He added to it with the strikeout of Altuve.
3. Tyson Ross makes his return to the Rangers’ rotation Saturday after missing three weeks with a blister on his right index finger. His delivery was also injured.
So, he worked on the delivery over two rehab starts, the second one better than the first, and gets to apply the work he’s done against a real lineup. It hasn’t gone very well so far.
It was supposed to go much better when the Rangers signed him in January to a one-year deal. The theory was that he’d be at full strength for the stretch run and help carry the Rangers into the postseason.
Technically, that could still happen. Technically.
He also has an incentive to get better, to impress the Rangers as they take a look at him for next season. Ah, yes, next season, when the Rangers will have at least three spots to fill in their rotation — Ross’ being one of them.
The Rangers might like his price tag, just as they did last off-season for $6 million guaranteed. He might like the idea of another one-year deal to re-establish his market value.
But he has to be able to iron out the wrinkles and show that he can be an effective pitcher down the stretch if he’s to have any chance at re-signing with the Rangers.
Ross gets another chance Saturday.