ANAHEIM -- First there was the sound, a high-decibel crack of lightning that put all eyes on the Rangers' Adrian Beltre one more time at Angel Stadium.If Wednesday night's 3-2 Rangers defeat was, in fact, Beltre's final game at the Angels' home ballpark, he said farewell in style with a
ANAHEIM -- First there was the sound, a high-decibel crack of lightning that put all eyes on the Rangers' Adrian Beltre one more time at Angel Stadium.
If Wednesday night's 3-2 Rangers defeat was, in fact, Beltre's final game at the Angels' home ballpark, he said farewell in style with a majestic home run over the greenery beyond the center-field wall.
Afterward, there was even a subtle hint this could be Beltre's last visit to Anaheim. As the Rangers rookies dressed in hen and rooster costumes for the flight to Seattle, Beltre dressed as the farmer, complete with denim overalls, a red-and-black plaid shirt, cowboy boots and a straw hat.
Why participate in a ritual reserved for rookies?
"They said after 20 years you are a rookie again," Beltre said. "The guys were kind of asking for it and they wanted me to get dressed so I said, 'Yeah, if you guys want it, why not?'"
In the entirety of Beltre's 21-year career, his 261 games against the Angels are his most against any single opponent. He also has his most at-bats (1,011), runs (133), hits (276), doubles (52), home runs (48) and RBIs (168) against the Angels.
Deep in the heart of Orange County, Beltre now has 26 home runs and 83 RBIs in 129 games.
But the numbers do not just show what Beltre has done in the past, over what is expected to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. His home run Wednesday gave him eight in September, tied with the White Sox's Daniel Palka and the Indians' Francisco Lindor for most in the month. He also has 15 RBIs and 14 runs in 21 September games.
For interim manager Don Wakamatsu, those kind of September numbers make him think one thing: "Well, we want him back."
"You look up at the record books and he just keeps climbing in every category," Wakamatsu said. "There is no mystery why he's where he's at. The work ethic, the character, the intelligence, it's everything he puts in."
The Rangers' final game at Anaheim this year was a crisp, well-pitched affair that remained in doubt long into the evening.
Perhaps Wednesday was the passing of the torch to a new generation of slugger. Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani won the game with his solo home run to left field off Chris Martin in the eighth inning, his 22nd of the season.
In addition to Beltre's second-inning home run, his 15th of the season, Jurickson Profar hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, his 20th.
The Angels first tied the score 1-1 in the fourth inning on an RBI single from Ohtani and then tied it again 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth on a home run from Taylor Ward, his fourth.
Rangers starter Yohander Mendez gave up two runs on three hits over 4 1/3 innings, with four walks and three strikeouts in what is expected to be his last appearance of the season.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney gave up two runs on seven hits over seven innings, with a walk and 10 strikeouts. It was the fifth time Heaney reached double digits in strikeouts this season.
Asked about his huge September, Beltre credited his farmer gear. He then said it was because he is "country strong" as a chicken farmer.
But he turned introspective when asked about the juxtaposition of his strong finish in the face of a difficult 66-92 season.
"That's the idea, but I don't think as a team we are doing a good job right now," Beltre said. "Obviously as a team we want to finish strong, but individually I'm feeling a little better."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One day after Joey Gallo hit his 40th home run, Profar flashed a smile after hitting his own round number. Like Beltre, Profar has finished strong on his path to 20 home runs. Six of those 20 have come over his last 21 games. His previous six took 55 games. He finished the night with two hits for his 31st multi-hit game of the season.
Beltre moved up yet another list Wednesday. The RBI from his home run gave him 1,704 for his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Frank Thomas for 21st all-time.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Elvis Andrus received a blow to the back of his helmet in the fifth inning when his own bat hit him. Andrus cracked his bat below the barrel as he hit a ground ball to third base, but the bat managed to remain in one piece. As Andrus followed through on his swing, though, the barrel separated from the handle and connected with a thud to the back of his head. Andrus looked stunned, but remained in the game.
HE SAID IT
"I thought he left it up and out. We've been doing a good job of staying inside and battling. He's a special hitter. He's pulling balls down the right-field line. Then you put a ball a little elevated out and away, he takes it away. It shows you what kind of leverage he has with that body." -- Wakamatsu, on Ohtani's go-ahead home run off Martin
Right-hander Ariel Jurado (4-5, 6.66 ERA) will take the mound Thursday at Seattle to open the final series of the season. Jurado has followed an opening pitcher in each of his last four outings going 2-1 with a 6.59 ERA. The Mariners will counter with left-hander Marco Gonzales (13-9, 4.12). First pitch is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. CT.
Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com based in Anaheim.