MINNEAPOLIS – Alex Rodriguez called Carlos Beltran “a one-man wrecking crew,” and it’s hard to argue the point.
The 39-year-old Beltran, whom CC Sabathia said two weeks ago was “carrying” the Yankees, continued a remarkable season Saturday, going 3-for-5, hitting a game-tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning that helped spur his team to a 7-6 victory.
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Beltran has a .288/.321/.576 slash line with a team-best 18 homers and 48 RBI. Fourteen of the homers and 36 of the RBI have come in the last 36 games.
“It’s fun to see, fun to watch, fun to be a part of,” said Jacoby Ellsbury, whose two-run single in the ninth put the Yankees ahead 6-4. “Let’s hope he keeps it going. He’s deserving of being an All-Star.”
Beltran hit 19 homers all of last season, though the veteran said the power surge isn’t by design.
“I’m healthy for the most part and hitting the ball well but, honestly, homers, that’s something I don’t really look for, that’s not my approach,” he said. “It’s great I’ve been able do that, but my approach has been to hopefully stay in the middle of the field and give my team a chance to keep the rally going.”
Saturday’s eighth-inning rally started with Brett Gardner reaching on an infield single with one out against lefthander Buddy Boshers.
Twins manager Paul Molitor brought in righthander Kevin Jepsen to turn the switch-hitting Beltran around.
With the count 1-and-2, Beltran just got in front of a slider, yanking it deep but foul down the rightfield line. The next pitch, a changeup, Beltran took the other way, knocking it just over the wall in left, which tied it at 4, and improved the rightfielder to 3-for-4 in his career vs. Jepsen.
“After I pulled that one I guess he didn’t want to throw it again and tried to throw a changeup and I took advantage,” Beltran said.
The veteran said, however, that wasn’t the pitch he expected.
“I was basically looking for something offsped but not a changeup,” Beltran said. “I was looking more slider. But when you’re looking offspeed and all of a sudden you see soft up in the strike zone . . . I saw it well and put good barrel on the ball. I didn’t think it was going to leave the ballpark because I didn’t hit it so great, but it was good enough.”