By Bob Elliott
It wasn’t Man Down once.
It was Man Down twice.
First, Adrian Beltre departed in the third inning and then Josh Donaldson two innings later in Game 1 of the best-of-five American League Division Series.
Is this anyway for a playoff to start, without two of the best third basemen in the game?
That’s the way it unfolded with Hanser Alberto taking over for Beltre. He made all the chances and was hitless in two at-bats.
Ezequiel Carrera pinch hit for Donaldson and grounded to second, then Chad Pennington took over at third and was hitless in his only at-bat.
“Any team would be concerned about not having Beltre, he’s a leader on the team,” said Josh Hamilton. “We had to talk him into coming out.
“That says a lot about him, what kind of player he is, what kind of man he is. For him to get emotional like that shows how much he cares. About his game. About his teammates. About the organization.”
Beltre who suffered a lower back strain sliding into second on an inning-ending double-play ball in the first, remained in the game, singled and could barely run to first in the third.
Beltre was given an injection and had an MRI which didn’t show any major structural issues. While he remains day-to-day, the Rangers flew in infielders Joey Gallo and Ed Lucas from Phoenix.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he wanted options in case the Beltre injury is worse than it appears.
It gives an insight into the type of player Beltre is when he was in tears on the diamond and had to be talked into leaving.
“(Beltre) brings such a fun atmosphere into the dugout. All his antics, they’re missed when he’s not there,” said Hamilton. “That’s one of the main deals veteran guys have to stay on top of, that was one of the arguments we gave out there. Take it on in. Get right. See what’s going on. We need you.
“We told him we had his back and felt like we could hold onto it. Go take care of himself.”
You could say the Rangers won one for Beltre.
BULLPEN SHAKEUP: Closer Shawn Tolleson, who has held the title since mid-May, didn’t get into the Texas Rangers most important game of the year thus far.
Former Blue Jays reliever Sam Dyson was asked to get his first save in two months.
Would that be akin to asking the guy who runs the 100-yard dash to run the mile at the high school track meet?
“It’s not about ninth, eighth, seventh inning,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “It’s about guys coming in when we feel it’s the best opportunity for those guys to get the run of outs that we need.”
The Rangers now appear set to go with a bullpen by match-ups instead of phoning the bullpen and saying “Get The Man up ... it’s his time.”
Keone Kela, who usually works the seventh, pitched the sixth, allowing a solo homer to Jose Bautista.
Lefty Jake Diekman, pitched the seventh and eighth.
It was not Tolleson who got the save opportunity in the ninth. He only frittered away only two chances in 37 tries, but one was against the Jays and on Saturday he was roughed up by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Dyson allowed a lead-off single to Edwin Encarnacion, fanned Troy Tulowitzki and retired Justin Smoak and Russell Martin on grounders.
What approach do reliever take now without defined roles?
“Just pitch when your name is called, and try to throw up zeroes,” Diekman said.