The lineup that was posted in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse Tuesday afternoon was quite the attention-getter.
“Wow, how about that lineup?” right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo said.
He wasn’t even in it.
But Choo, who is on the disabled list until at least Thursday, saw the names of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy among the Rangers regulars for the first time at Camden Yards and, like many of his teammates was impressed.
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“I’m scared if I’m an opposing pitcher having to pitch to that lineup,” Choo said.
Baltimore Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy wasn’t too scared.
Bundy allowed only one hit in seven innings, and the Oklahoma native outpitched Yu Darvish in a 5-1 victory to open a three-game series between division leaders.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Lucroy said of Darvish, who allowed three solo homers in 6 1/3 innings. “Their guy was just a little bit better.”
Beltran and Lucroy reported to their new team the day after they were acquired at the annual non-waiver trade deadline and made their Rangers debuts to open a three-game series between division leaders.
The Rangers, though, know that the trades for Beltre and Lucroy, which also included reliever Jeremy Jeffress, don’t guarantee them anything, especially not a World Series title.
But the trades can’t hurt.
“How can I say it? I think the additions that we have are the best out there,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said.
“This is a really good lineup. This is a deep, balanced, good-looking lineup, and that’s knowing Choo is a few days away from getting back. This doesn’t say that we’re going to win every ballgame out there. We’re going to have to go out there and produce and perform, but just to see the lineup up gives up more confidence that we can come back from any deficit.”
Manager Jeff Banister said that he drew up the lineup Monday on the plane trip from Love Field. The additions allowed him to move center fielder Ian Desmond back to the No. 2 spot. Lucroy was sixth behind Rougned Odor, and Mitch Moreland, the reigning American League Player of the Week, was in the No. 8 spot.
Banister put Beltran and Beltre — who entered Tuesday with a combined 5,436 hits, 843 homers and 3,039 RBIs — back to back behind Desmond. Though Banister says that lineups evolve day to day based on the opponent’s starting pitcher, he envisions Beltran and Beltre remaining together the rest of the season.
5,436 Combined career hits entering Tuesday for Carlos Beltran and Adrian Beltre, who are likely to bat third and fourth the rest of the season for the Rangers
“That’s a pretty solid 3-4 combo,” Banister said. “I don’t want to break them up for any reason. There are some other spots in that lineup where I can envision we could platoon. When Choo comes back, the leadoff spot looks a little different. Choo, when he gets back to doing what he can do, that’s a pretty nice 1 through 9, really.”
Beltran knows that he doesn’t have to carry the offense, just supplement it.
“They want to win, and at the same time the team is performing well,” said Beltran, who has 2,563 career hits, 414 homers and 1,507 RBIs. “I’m just looking forward to adding to what they already have in progress.”
Lucroy, who batted .299 this season with Milwaukee, knows his first task is getting to know an entirely new pitching staff, a task that he said doesn’t worry him in the least. He had his hands full right away, with the electric stuff that Yu Darvish offers, but came to the ballpark early to meet with pitching coach Doug Brocail and to start chatting up the pitching staff.
Lucroy, 30, had an interesting journey to the Rangers. The Milwaukee Brewers had traded him to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, but the Indians were on his no-trade list and he nixed the deal.
I was really, really hoping that if I did go anywhere it would be Texas. The No. 1 thing was proximity of home for me, but secondary to that was a good ballclub, a really, really good ballclub.
A resident of Lafayette, La., Lucroy landed with his No. 1 choice.
“I was really, really hoping that if I did go anywhere it would be Texas,” said Lucroy, a two-time All-Star. “The No. 1 thing was proximity of home for me, but secondary to that was a good ballclub, a really, really good ballclub. This was my No. 1 target to get traded to. Obviously, that’s not really in my control if it’s not on my no-trade list. I’m thankful and grateful that I’m here now.”
Beltran said that he was not surprised to be traded. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman kept him abreast of his plans, and all the 39-year-old Beltran wanted was a chance at the postseason.
He has that now with the Rangers, who know that the additions of Beltran and Lucroy don’t guarantee a World Series title.
“This is what, as a player, you look for,” Beltran said. “You want to be in situations where you play in meaningful games and get the opportunity to play in the playoffs.
“There’s no doubt that it’s going to be tough. We have to concentrate on doing our job as a team. We have to go out there and play the game hard and try to win the series. That’s the most important thing now.”
Rangers at Orioles
6:05 p.m. Tuesday, FSSW