Texas Rangers

Beltre’s bat heating up for Rangers. How would a strong finish affect retirement decision?

Adrian Beltre’s home run to start the second inning Saturday gave him four homers in his past seven games.
Adrian Beltre’s home run to start the second inning Saturday gave him four homers in his past seven games. The Associated Press

Considering it’s now football season and considering the way the Oakland Coliseum baseball field has looked in past Septembers, compliments are in order to the man with the toughest job in baseball.

The Oakland Athletics’ heads groundskeeper has Rickey Henderson Field looking pretty nice for baseball. The yard lines are nearly impossible to see, and the outfield, where the grass-killing Mount Davis sits on NFL game days, doesn’t look terrible.

That might change after Monday, when the Oakland Raiders play host to Monday Night Football, but things look pretty good, relatively speaking, this weekend.

As for the Texas Rangers, they looked much better Saturday afternoon than Friday night. And it still wasn’t good enough.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-6 loss.

1. The last time the Rangers were in Oakland, third baseman Adrian Beltre said that his case for returning for 2019 would be strengthened if he could show some of the power that the young hitters these days are showing.

It turns out he was trying to make a joke and that his strong finish to the season will not affect his decision on whether to retire after 21 seasons.

But it couldn’t hurt, right?

Beltre hit two homers Saturday, including a game-tying two-run shot in the eighth inning, and has five homers in the past seven games. He started the second inning with a homer in his first at-bat and was robbed of a double in his second.

The first homer pushed Beltre’s hitting streak to seven games, during which he has five homers and a double. He has moved past Ken Griffey Jr. for 14th all time with 5,279 total bases, past Carlos Delgado for 32nd all time in homers with 474, and past Cal Ripken Jr. for 24th all time with 1,696 RBIs.

His next hit will move him out of a tie with Paul Waner (3,152) for 16th all time in hits.

“Health-wise I’m better and swinging the bat a little better,” Beltre said. “Hopefully I can keep doing what I’m doing. In my case, I haven’t produced the way I want to, so, of course, I want to finish strong.”

The only downside to the home runs is all the head rubbing that occurs afterward. After his first homer Saturday, TV cameras appeared to catch an unusual moment between him and Rougned Odor.

Beltre couldn’t think of anything odd when initially asked about it, but then recalled the situation.

“I made a stupid comment, and he got butt-hurt,” Beltre said. “That was it. I was kidding.”

He said butt-hurt.

2. Yohander Mendez acquitted himself fairly well in his second start since being recalled from the minors. His two mistakes were a two-out walk to Jed Lowrie in the first and an inability to put away the next batter, Khris Davis, despite having in a 1-2 hole.

Davis launched a two-run homer three pitches later.

That was the only hit Mendez allowed in his four innings in which he threw 87 pitches. That was too many for a fifth inning, the by-product of too many three-ball counts, and that’s what allowed the A’s back into the game as they struck for three two-out runs against Martin Perez over the next two innings to take a 5-4 lead.

It didn’t help that the Rangers had runners at second and third with no outs in their fifth, with the middle of the order coming, and failed to score. (The interference call on Elvis Andrus at first base for the first out of the inning didn’t help, either.)

Mendez, though, doesn’t hit and he’s not a reliever. He recovered from the Davis homer, kept the Rangers in the game, and left with a lead.

Consider that another positive step for the left-hander.

3. The writing had been on the wall since Wednesday, when manager Jeff Banister didn’t commit to Bartolo Colon making his next start.

It became official Saturday.

Colon is headed to the bullpen, giving way to Adrian Sampson. He will start Tuesday in Anaheim as the Rangers begin to evaluate the right-hander for 2019.

The apparent end for Colon with the Rangers is a bummer for the 40-somethings and baseball fans in general. He was fun to watch early in the season when he was the Rangers’ best starting pitcher, and he was rewarded for his pursuit of the most wins by a pitcher from Latin America (246).

In all actuality, the writing has probably been on the wall a lot longer than Wednesday.

The Rangers are rebuilding. Part of rebuilding is moving out the old, even a decorated veteran like Colon, and bringing in the new, even if the new guy isn’t a highly touted prospect.

Sampson isn’t guaranteed a rotation spot next season, but he pitched well enough down the stretch at Triple A Round Rock (5-1, 2.34 ERA in final 14 starts) to merit a look. He’s going to get it, and Colon will be watching from the bullpen.

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