ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is smoking at the plate. He hit three home runs in his first three at-bats on Wednesday. On Friday he hit for the cycle for the second time in his career.
So which feat is more impressive?
"I think the more impressive one has got to be the cycle. That's not easy to do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after his team blanked the Minnesota Twins 8-0 behind Beltre's power hitting and Matt Harrison's eight-inning gem. "I think we've got what, six in the history of the Texas Rangers that have hit for the cycle? You've just got to be fortunate to do that. You usually don't hit a triple; he hit a triple. In his second at-bat he hits a (double) and then he comes back and gets the (home run). He did it the easy way, but that's the toughest thing to do."
It was just the sixth cycle in Rangers history and, true, triples are hard to come by, and Beltre got his out of the way quickly. In fact, the first-inning blast off the base of the left-center field wall was his first three-bagger since July 26, 2010, a span of 302 games, the longest drought of his career.
But, Wash, three homers in one game? How often do you see that?
"Three home runs, we saw him do that before, so that's no big deal," Washington said. "And I know in his major league career he probably had two [cycles], but we have seen him hit three before and it was at a big time of the year, in the playoffs (at Tampa Bay). But, three home runs is great, it really is. But, to hit for the a cycle that's got to be an awesome feeling."
It is, Beltre acknowledged after collecting four more hits to give him three consecutive games of at least three hits, three more RBIs to get to 77 while raising his batting average to .316. But, Beltre said, give him the three homers over the cycle.
"I don't know what's more impressive, but I would take the three home runs," said Beltre, who has 24 homers on the season. "I've already done the cycle before."
Yeah, but you hit three home runs against the Rays in the ALDS. In the playoffs.
"Yeah, the playoffs, that's different," Beltre said. "When you hit three home runs you have a chance for a fourth."
Teammate Josh Hamilton knows something about that, having hit four bombs at Baltimore earlier this season. On Friday, Hamilton prevented Beltre from going for a cycle-plus-one after ending the bottom of the eighth with a groundout.
Beltre drilled a line drive down the left-field line in the second inning to score Ian Kinsler and he deposited a fifth-inning home run in the left-field bleachers. All three hits came off wobbly Twins starter Samuel Deduno. He crushed Kyle Waldrop's eighth-inning offering into right field for the easy part, as Washington said, a single.
Beltre's other cycle also came at Rangers Ballpark in 2008 when he played for the Seattle Mariners. Coincidentally, three of the four hits came off Friday's Rangers starter Matt Harrison, who went 6 2/3 innings without allowing a hit. Not coincidentally, Harrison, who earned a career-best 15th win, said he's glad Beltre plays on his side now.
"You can't get much better than that," Harrison said. "I mean he's hit a home run in his last three games, at least one and he's just seeing the ball great right now and I hope he keeps it up."
Other tidbits on Beltre's feats (via Elias):
* Beltre is just the second player since 1900 to hit for the cycle for and against one team. The other is Joe Cronin, who hit a cycle for the Red Sox in 1940 against the Tigers and against the Red Sox 11 years earlier in 1929 while with the Washington Senators.
* The only player besides Beltre to have a three-homer game and a cycle in a seven-day span was Joe DiMaggio in 1948. Beltre did it in a three-day span.
* Beltre is second player in the live ball era to have two career cycles as a third baseman. The other is Ken Boyer.