Did someone hypnotize Carlos Beltran and forget to wake him up? The St. Louis rightfielder appears to be sleepwalking through the current series against the Astros. Beltran is 0 for 8 with four strikeouts in the first two games of the series. He somehow managed to reach base on a walk in the third inning of last night’s game. That’s not too hard to believe, considering Lucas Harrell issued a total of six walks in five innings of work.
If he wasn’t deep in a hypnotic state, Beltran may have been able to do more against Harrell. In the fifth inning Beltran came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. After getting ahead of Harrell with a 3-0 count, Beltran inexplicably swung the bat. The result was a 3-2-3 double-play that paved the way for Harrell to escape the inning without allowing a run.
Beltran just doesn’t seem to be himself lately. Not only is he routinely swinging and missing on pitches that bounce in front of the plate, he also badly misplayed a fly ball last night. Carlos got a terrible jump on a popup off the bat of Jose Altuve and had to play it on a hop.
After getting off to a tremendous start this season, nagging injuries have no doubt played a part in Beltran’s second half fade. The former Astro, now 35-years old, has been dealing with knee problems for years. This season he has also had to contend with minor injuries to his leg, forearm, lower back, and hand, as well as an early-season bout with the flu. Despite all of that, Beltran was hitting .308 and leading the National League with 63 RBIs as of July 2. Then, to put it mildly, he started to struggle.
Through his first 76 games Beltran had a respectable 56/40 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In the 69 games since he has fanned 68 times and walked only 20. He has batted .222 and added only 28 RBIs to his season total. Beltran deservedly made this year’s All-Star team but has been anything but a star down the stretch.
Even though Beltran has tanked, the Cardinals are still leading in the race for the final playoff spot. Yadier Molina has picked up some of the slack offensively and rookie Matt Carpenter has been a pleasant surprise. Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, and David Freese have provided enough thunder to make up for the loss of Albert Pujols.
The Cards just keep on winning, even without Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Chris Carpenter. Berkman probably won’t play again this season but Carpenter is set to make his second start of the year tonight. If Carpenter can return to form the Cards will be a tough team to beat in October. And if someone snaps their fingers, rings a bell, or does whatever it takes to bring Beltran out of his trance, the Cards just might make a run at another World Series title.