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2003-06-04 08:53
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

It really does seem as if Adrian Beltre is seeing pitches come at him from a funhouse mirror.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday, two out, tie game, Beltre got the count in his favor 2-0. He took a strike, then twice went after those diving breaking pitches that it seems anyone could see are nowhere near the plate. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Beltre fouled off the latter of those, to stay alive at 2-2.

The next pitch was a fastball that, from my seats between home and first base, looked way too good to take. Just like the 2-2 pitch to Fred McGriff on Saturday that was called a ball, allowing McGriff to stay alive and hit what would prove to be the winning home run. If anyone was watching on television, let me know if the 2-2 pitch to Beltre didn't look like a strike.

What is it that makes Beltre take that pitch and swing at the previous two? Is he simply programmed? "Swing at pitch No. 5. Take pitch No. 6." Does he simply have incredible strike zone judgment on fastballs and none on breaking pitches?

Anyway, with the count 3-2, it was clear that the next pitch would have to be more than perfect to be called a strike. And it wasn't - it was further off the plate, giving the Dodgers the victory. Give Beltre credit for having the poise to take it.

I wasn't focused on the aftermath, at least from the Royals' end, but I understand that Royals manager Tony Pena came out to argue after the game - if so, it had to have been about the 2-2 pitch.

Ultimately, it was a nice ending for Beltre on a night when Mike Lowell hit two home runs and drove in six runs off the American League's best pitching staff.

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