Rangers advance to ALCS with Game 4 win over Rays

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison throws against the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning of Game 4 in their MLB American League Divisional Series baseball playoffs in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 4, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Nesius (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Tampa Bay Rays had an incredible season, but the Texas Rangers were more than ready for them. Adrian Beltre smacked three solo home runs to power the Rangers to a 4-3 victory.

Beltre has been a terrific — if imperfect — player over the course of his career. But many fans have viewed him as disappointment, especially in Seattle, after the Mariners signed him to a big free-agent contract following his monster 2004 season with the Dodgers and he was never able to replicate that .334, 48-homer season. But with the Mariners, I liked that he always played hard, played great defense (recognized with Gold Glove awards in 2007 and 2008) and hit for power in a tough park for right-handed pull hitters.

After a year in Boston where he compiled his best numbers since 2004, the Rangers signed him to play third base. The signing was controversial, not because of Beltre’s abilities, but because it left Michael Young without a position. In the end, it all worked out. Young filled in at DH and around the infield while contending for the AL batting crown and Beltre loved hitting in The Ballpark in Arlington — he hit a .326/.372/.706 at home with 23 of his 32 home runs, compared to .271/.297/.440 on the road.

Let’s see if the Tigers can wrap thing up against the Yankees tonight.

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