Red Sox strike early, improve to 6-1 versus Yankees

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The Red Sox jumped all over Freddy Garcia on Tuesday, knocking him out in the second inning before holding on to win 6-4 over the Yankees.  They’ve taken six of seven games from the Bombers this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury started the contest with a leadoff homer to right.  After that, a Dustin Pedroia walk, an Adrian Gonzalez triple and a Kevin Youkilis sac fly made it 3-0 with just one out in the first.  When the Red Sox scored again in the second, Garcia was pulled in favor of Luis Ayala.

At 1 2/3 innings, it was tied for the second shortest start of Garcia’s career.  He gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings for the White Sox in a loss to Oakland last year.

The Red Sox won despite another shaky outing from Jon Lester.  The southpaw gave up three runs and eight hits in his six innings of work.  He never had a one-two-three inning until the sixth, and he surrendered Jorge Posada’s first two hits against a left-handed pitcher this season.

Thanks to the quick sixth, Lester did manage a quality start in this one.  However, he has a 6.17 ERA in his last six outings.

The game also featured a couple of injuries.  Mark Teixeira had to be helped off with a knee contusion after getting hit by a Lester pitch in the first.  Bobby Jenks, who is just off the DL, left in the seventh with what appeared to be back spasms.

Obviously, not a whole lot went right for the Yankees in this one.  Hector Noesi’s performance was the exception.  Coming in as the team’s third pitcher of the game to start the fourth, he pitched six innings in relief, allowing two runs.  He retired 13 straight after David Ortiz’s two-run homer in the fifth.

That he was able to finish the contest and save the pen could play a big role in the remaining games in the series.

One can’t help but wonder if Ortiz might get buzzed up and in Wednesday’s rematch.  He pulled off quite the bat flip following his homer tonight, and he’s looking awfully comfortable at the plate anyway.  Joe Girardi certainly noticed.

And one more note: Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 in this one, leaving him 12 hits shy of 3,000.  His first hit should have been ruled an error on Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro, but we’ll give the official scorer a pass this time: hindering Jeter’s chances of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau at Yankee Stadium probably wouldn’t have been great for his health.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.