ARLINGTON, Texas -- On a night full of large bats, the guy carrying the biggest stick was third baseman Adrian Beltre.
His shining moment came in the fourth inning, when the Red Sox decided to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton with the score 5-3 Rangers and two outs.
The decision was understandable: Don't let the 2010 AL MVP beat you. Plus, Beltre was just 9-for-50 (.180) with eight RBIs in his career off Boston starter John Lackey.
"But that's what's so great about this lineup," Rangers starter Colby Lewis said. "Anyone can beat you."
Beltre didn't wait long, pouncing on a 1-0 pitch and depositing it over the Southwest sign in left-center. The Rangers' dugout erupted, with catcher Yorvit Torrealba jumping up and down like a cartoon character.
"It's going to happen," Beltre said. "Everybody knows the type of hitter Hamilton is. When you have a base open like that, you want to face the next guy. I took that as a chanllege. It made me anxious. I don't hit Lackey well."
The grand slam came against Beltre's old team. He was an offensive force for the Red Sox in 2010, signing a one-year deal to show he could still hit and to get his value up for a big contract. It certainly worked as he signed a five-year deal worth $80 million with a vesting option for a sixth year at $16 million with Texas this offseason. Beltre said he doesn't have any added motivation in playing his old team.
"I don't wish bad to anybody, especially guys I played with," Beltre said. "Of course, I want to win. Probably when they play someone else, I will cheer for them."
The grand slam (the ninth of his career) is a reminder of how important Beltre is to the overall lineup. (You can read my column from a few days ago about the impact he can have here) If he shows he can come up with those type of clutch hits, opposing pitchers will be less inclined to pitch around Hamilton. That can only help the offense as a whole long term.
Beltre's homer was part of another impressive offensive performance for the Rangers, who slugged out 12 runs on 15 hits. The offense is now 25-for-73 (.342) in the first two games of the season.