Adrian Beltre

May 26, 2010: Adrián Beltré breaks out big with the Red Sox

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

Adrian BeltreIn a 21-year career that was honored by his 2024 election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, Adrián Beltré spent one season – 2010 – with the Boston Red Sox. At age 31, it was one of Beltré’s best years, and it reignited the Dominican-born third baseman’s path toward Cooperstown.

In 2004, Beltré’s final year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his original big-league club, he hit .334, with 121 RBIs and a majors-leading 48 home runs, finishing second in the NL MVP voting to Barry Bonds. He then signed a five-year, $64 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. In the five seasons with Seattle that followed (2005-09), Beltré received two Gold Gloves but struggled with injuries and a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. The highest he hit for average was .276. He did not reach 100 RBIs for the Mariners, topping out at 99 in 2007.

Seattle let Beltré go to free agency and he was signed by the Red Sox for one year at $9 million. Boston’s incumbent third baseman, 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell, was winding down his career.1 Beltré was in need of a rebound year. He got off to a good start, typically batting fifth in the lineup.

He came into Boston’s May 26 game against the Tampa Bay Rays batting .327, ninth-best in the AL, but he had hit just three home runs to that point. He had 27 RBIs in 45 games.  

The Rays (32-14) had the best record in baseball, good for a 4½-game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East Division. The Red Sox were fourth, 6½ games behind. Coming into the Wednesday night game at Tropicana Field, though, the Red Sox had won four games in a row and seven of their last eight. They had beaten Tampa Bay on Monday night, 6-1, and then again on Tuesday, 2-0, the Rays managing only one base hit – a fourth-inning single off Jon Lester by Willy Aybar.

Matt Garza was manager Joe Maddon’s starting pitcher in the series finale. He came into the game with the second-best ERA in the AL, 2.37, and a 5-2 record. 

For the Red Sox, manager Terry Francona’s choice was John Lackey (4-3, 5.07), who had lost his last two starts.

Neither team scored in the first inning, though Garza walked two. Lackey gave up two singles.

Beltré led off the second inning, driving a 1-and-0 pitch to left-center field for his fourth home run of the season. It landed 8 to 10 rows deep in the seats. The hit made him 6-for-14 lifetime against Garza.

The Rays tied it, 1-1, in the bottom of the second on Reid Brignac’s RBI groundout.

In the third, Garza doled out another pair of walks, to Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. That brought up Beltré again, this time with two outs. On a 1-and-1 count, Garza threw a curveball over the plate. Beltré had to go down to get under it, dropping on his right knee as he finished his swing – a trademark finish throughout his career. He pounded the ball, lifting it to straightaway left. It was another no-doubter that landed at least a half a dozen rows deep.

His second homer of the game gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead. They had four runs on just two hits – the two homers by Adrián Beltré.

Tampa Bay got one back in the fourth on Brignac’s RBI single, but Boston took a 6-2 lead in the top of the fifth when Pedroia singled to left and David Ortiz homered to straightaway right field – another hard-hit ball that went several rows deep. It was Ortiz’s 10th homer of the season. Beltré came up again but flied out to center.

In five innings, Garza allowed six runs – all on homers by future Hall of Famers Beltré and Ortiz. “When they need[ed] a big hit, they got it,” said Garza.2

The Rays’ third pitcher of the evening, Grant Balfour, started off the seventh. With one out, Beltré reached on an infield single, well-played deep in the hole by a diving shortstop Jason Bartlett, whose throw was just too late to catch the hustling hitter. Beltré got no farther than first base.

Lackey left after 6⅓ innings. Three Red Sox relievers followed, working a combined 2⅔ innings, allowing two hits and one base on balls.

It was still 6-2 heading into the ninth. With one out and Ortiz on first base, Lance Cormier came in from the bullpen and walked Youkilis on four pitches. Beltré kept fouling off pitches, eventually working the count to 2-and-2. He banged the ninth pitch of the at-bat to right-center, splitting the difference between the two fielders and short-hopping the wall on one bounce. He broke out of the box running and got himself a three-base hit. He hadn’t missed a third home run by all that much. Driving in two runs, he had earned his fifth and sixth RBIs of the game. Jeremy Hermida swung at the first pitch and slapped a single to right field, scoring Beltré.

Jason Varitek struck out but Mike Cameron singled to center, Hermida going first to third. Darnell McDonald doubled just over third base and down into the left-field corner to drive in both runners, making it 11-2, Red Sox.

Ben Zobrist hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, for a final score of 11-3.

The Red Sox swept the Rays, a bit of payback for the four games the Rays had taken from the Red Sox in mid-April.

Beltré’s six RBIs tied a career high set on July 27, 2000, while he was playing for the Dodgers, at Coors Field in Denver. That game included a grand slam off Kevin Jarvis.

His 12 total bases in this 2010 game were the most for Boston since Kevin Millar had 12 against the New York Yankees on July 23, 2004. Millar had homered three times in that game, which the Yankees won, 8-7.3

The Boston Globe credited Beltré for his fielding, too, discussing a play in the second inning when he “raced in from third to field a bunt by Sean Rodríguez and made an off-balance throw to first base.” The Globe’s Peter Abraham quoted catcher Jason Varitek: “The guy is gifted with a great arm and he works hard at those plays every day.”4

Beltré, talking about the three-game sweep, praised the pitchers: “We played pretty good, especially our pitching staff. [They were the ones] that kept us in the game and gave us the opportunity to win.”5

At the end of the season, Tampa Bay finished first in the division, just one game ahead of the Yankees. Boston was third, seven games back. The Texas Rangers beat the Rays in the Division Series, but lost in a five-game World Series to the San Francisco Giants.

Adrián Beltré was an All-Star in 2010 for the first time in his career. He led the majors with 49 doubles, drove in 102 runs, and received his second career Silver Slugger Award. He finished ninth in the AL MVP voting. After the season was over, Beltré signed a multiyear deal with the Texas Rangers and played his final eight seasons with them, averaging .304 over that stretch and hitting another 199 home runs and driving in 699 runs – just one shy of averaging exactly 100 per year.



This article was fact-checked by Bruce Slutsky and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted,, and Thanks to Wes Singletary for assistance with Tampa Bay news coverage of the game.



1 Seattle had offered arbitration, but Beltré preferred to test the free-agent market. The Red Sox were reportedly attempting to trade Mike Lowell and in the market for another third baseman. They were also reportedly considering moving Kevin Youkilis from first base to third base. The deal with Beltré included a player option for 2011. Amalie Banjamin, “Beltre Agrees to Terms with Red Sox,” Boston Globe, January 5, 2010: C1. He chose not to exercise the option, which had doubled to $10 million due to his playing time in 2010, and declined salary arbitration. Not willing to wait, and perhaps feeling that reupping with Beltré was unlikely, the Red Sox signed Adrián González to play first base, and Youkilis was their most frequent starter at third in 2011. See, for instance, Peter Abraham, “It’s a Nice Position to Be In,” Boston Globe, December 8, 2010: C2.

2 Roger Mooney, “Rays Take a Big Step Back,” Tampa Bay Tribune, May 27, 2010: Sports 1, 3.

3 Beltré had 13 total bases in a game while playing for the Mariners against the Oakland A’s on July 6, 2007. In that game, he had a single, two doubles, and two home runs.

4 Peter Abraham, “Beltre Shows Off Power Play,” Boston Globe, May 27, 2010: C1, C6.

5 Amalie Benjamin, “Sox Make It a Clean Sweep on Tampa Bay’s Carpet,” Boston Globe, May 27, 2010: C1.

Additional Stats

Boston Red Sox 11
Tampa Bay Rays 3

Tropicana Field
St. Petersburg, FL


Box Score + PBP:

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2010s ·