Mike Napoli assesses what could have been for the Rangers in 2017
The Rangers, who lost their fifth straight in demoralizing fashion 14-3 Tuesday night to the Houston Astros, were eliminated by the Minnesota Twins’ win, which came about 30 minutes before the last, painful out was made at Globe Life Park.
For Beltre, who has missed a career-high 61 games this season because of injury, it was an especially painful season. The 38-year-old, eventual Hall of Famer, returned to third base for the first time since a hamstring strain sidelined him August 31. He left early in the game after the Astros built a sizeable lead. If there was ever a white flag moment from the Rangers in ’17, it was Beltre, still hobbled by an aching left hamstring, letting rookie Will Middlebrooks take over at third.
Beltre, as always, didn’t mince his words about how disappointing a season this was for him. It was, he said, his worst because of so much time missed.
“For me, personally, yes, 100 percent,” Beltre said. “I wasn’t able to be on the field enough to help these guys out. I was able to come back and play well enough to contribute and then had another injury and I was really disappointed. So, no doubt, you can say it’s my most disappointing season.”
Beltre didn’t want to return to the field for any sort of personal earmark before the season concluded. No, he did it so the Rangers didn’t have to use him as the designated hitter.
“Not for me, for the team. I know Delino [DeShields], [Nomar] Mazara and [Shin-Soo] Choo are one of the three guys that have been hot lately,” he said. “If I’m DH, one of those guys has to be on the bench. I wanted to play third so those guys could be in the lineup, so that’s mainly why I did it.”
Leave it to Beltre to add another admirable moment to his season, one in which he collected his 3,000th hit, on a night the Rangers’ season officially was finished.
A quick-hitting Rangers reaction after the last meaningful game of 2017:
1. Beltre expounds — Beltre took much of the blame for the team’s struggles this season.
“If I was able to be on the field it’d be a different case. Who knows if me and a couple other guys didn’t get hurt for quite a bit of time, it would have been different,” he said. He also added another layer of complexity to the club’s injuries: How it may have effected the club’s trade deadline moves.
“Who knows, if we didn’t get hurt, a couple of guys wouldn’t have been traded, it would have been a different story,” Beltre said. I”f we were in a better situation when I was down, instead of trading somebody we could have gotten somebody to help us. Just the whole situation, I don’t think I helped at all. It could have been a lot different if I hadn’t injured myself.”
2. Longing ball — The Rangers have struggled to score runs during their five-game losing streak. Four of the club’s seven total runs in the stretch have come via solo homer, including two Tuesday night.
3. Delino’s dash — Delino DeShields hit his first-career inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning. It’s the second one this season for the Rangers. Joey Gallo did it against the Blue Jays on June 21. It’s the first time they’ve done it twice in a season since 1997. There have been three inside-the-park homers at Globe Life Park this season, including the White Sox’s Nicky Delmonico on Aug. 18.
4. Hamels’ finale — Cole Hamels was pulled after three-plus innings trailing 5-1 with no outs in the fourth. The Astros jumped on Hamels for four runs in the first. It’s the shortest outing for Hamels since he joined the Rangers in at the trade deadline in 2015.
5. Long ball leaders — The Rangers are tied with the Yankees and the Orioles for the league lead with 232 homers. The Rangers won’t catch the club record of 260 homers in 2005.