Beltre hammers hard stuff vs Orioles

Tim Heitman/US Presswire

Adrian Beltre became the fifth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a game in both the regular season and postseason.Adrian Beltre homered three times in the first four innings as the Texas Rangers offense stayed hot in a 12-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

The Rangers have scored double-digit runs in three of their last seven games and have an MLB-best 17 games with 10 or more runs this season.

Beltre homered against a 94 mph fastball in the second inning and went deep twice more in the fourth inning, once off an 88 mph cutter from Tommy Hunter and once off an 91 mph fastball from Kevin Gregg.

He’s now hitting .336 in at bats ending with a pitch of 88 or more mph this season compared to just .265 against slower pitches.

Adrian Beltre By Pitch Speed This Season

Beltre’s improved plate discipline - his chase percentage has dropped every season since 2009 - has paid off in 2012. All of Beltre’s 22 home runs this season have come against pitches in the strike zone.

While Wednesday’s game was Beltre’s first with three home runs in the regular season, he homered three times against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of last year’s ALDS. Beltre joined the short list of current and future Hall-of-Famers with a three-homer game in both the regular season and postseason: Albert Pujols, George Brett, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth.

Beltre’s first home run Wednesday was his 20th of 2012, the 10th time in his 15 seasons he’s hit 20 in a year. He’s the ninth third baseman in MLB history with at least 10 20-homer seasons.

Beltre’s three homers also moved him into the top 100 on the MLB career list. He’s now tied for 97th on the all-time list along with Moises Alou, Bobby Bonds and Aramis Ramirez at 332.

Beltre wasn’t the only Rangers hitter in fine form Wednesday. Mitch Moreland also drove in five runs, four on his first career grand slam.

It’s the first time the Rangers had two players drive in five runs in the same game since they set an American League record for runs in a 30-3 blowout of the Orioles on August 22, 2007, exactly five years ago Wednesday.