Beltre's knee is hardest hit as sluggers struggle

Beltre's knee is hardest hit as sluggers struggle

Beltre's knee is hardest hit as sluggers struggle
DETROIT -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said keeping Adrian Beltre on the field wasn't a difficult call after the third baseman fouled a pitch off his left knee in the fourth inning. Beltre, too, made that seem the only option, but the decision wasn't one that came pain-free.

Texas' lineup was hurting literally and otherwise Tuesday night in a 5-2 loss to the Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

X-rays were negative and Beltre did not go for an MRI after he fouled the 91 mph Doug Fister pitch right below the kneecap. Beltre, bracing himself, fell to the ground in front of the plate before helping himself up and being examined on the field at Comerica Park. He grounded out.

"It was sore, it was sore, but it was good enough to be in there," said Beltre, one of the Rangers' Nos. 4-7 hitters who finished a combined 0-for-15. "It's tough to come out of the game like that ... I just didn't want to come out of the game."

Michael Young and other Rangers teammates said they expected that Beltre would tough out the discomfort. Young, too, saw his teammates rally around him, as he fights through a slump.

Batting cleanup, Young's average in the ALCS dropped to .083 with an 0-for-4 performance. He hit into a double play with a pair of runners on in the first inning, impeding momentum after the Rangers took their only lead of the game, 1-0, and he struck out in the ninth inning one batter after Josh Hamilton led off with a double against Detroit closer Jose Valverde.

This postseason, Young has the second-lowest average of any player to reach 20 at-bats at .111 (3-for-27). Only the Tigers' Alex Avila has a worse mark, .069 (2-for-29).

Asked if he's OK mechanically, Young said, "I'm fine."

"I just stay the course," Young said. "I know what I'm capable of doing, I'm trying to really focus on fundamentals. ... [Pitch selection] could've been a little bit better. But I don't want to spend too much time thinking about this game."

Before the game, Washington explained the decision to start Young at first base Tuesday instead of designated hitter was intended to spur his bat, because Young theoretically would spend less time thinking about hitting if he played the field. Young, however, said after the game "nothing's necessary to kind of get anything going for me."

"Michael struggled before," Washington said after the loss. "I don't think there's a baseball player that's playing the game that hasn't struggled. No, I'm not concerned."

Mike Napoli, who DH'd in Young's place, also went 0-for-4, while Nelson Cruz went 0-for-3 in the follow-up game to Monday's outstanding two-homer, five-RBI performance.

Fister received credit all around after letting up two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Asked to put Fister's performance aside and look at the bigger picture, Napoli and Cruz both thought the lineup wasn't a concern.

"I mean, we're fine," Napoli said. "He got us tonight, they got a good win. Nothing we can do about it. Went out there and fought hard and we didn't have enough tonight."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.