Beltre returns, can't provide heroics in loss

Pinch-hitting in first at-bat since Aug. 31, third baseman strands two

Beltre returns, can't provide heroics in loss

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are sinking in the American League Wild Card race, so they sent the captain up to bat, hoping to save the night.

But Adrian Beltre couldn't pull off the dramatic turnaround that 23,083 at Globe Life Park hoped for, and the Rangers lost to the Mariners, 8-1, on Wednesday night. The Rangers are now four games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.

There are only 17 games left, and the Angels and Mariners are also ahead of the Rangers. Despite a viable postseason berth within reach, the Rangers are still one game under .500 and in fourth place in the AL West.

"We know we need to play with a little more urgency," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We don't have many games left. We have to leave everything on the field. That's what's missing."

The Rangers trailed, 3-0, in the bottom of the sixth, but Andrus doubled and Nomar Mazara walked against Mariners starter Mike Leake. Joey Gallo struck out, but Robinson Chirinos singled to left -- the Rangers' only hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position -- to drive home Andrus to make it a two-run game.

Mariners manager Scott Servais then brought in left-hander James Pazos to face Willie Calhoun, a left-handed hitter in his second Major League game. That's when Banister sent Beltre to the plate for his first at-bat since Aug. 31.

"We were in a situation where, it was probably the only spot we were going to get the opportunity to use Adrian in a big spot," Banister said. "He was ready to hit. We felt it was the best spot. I don't want to pass up the opportunity to have our best guy not be able to come up in a situation and change the game."

Beltre had been sidelined for two weeks with a strained left hamstring. The original prognosis was that he would be out at least four weeks. But he has taken batting practice the past two days.

"I told skipper that I was ready for a situation like that, then I just prepared myself for that," Beltre said. "It's common sense. It's September. A lot of guys are playing with bad legs, bad ankles and it's normal a lot of times. So it's not a big deal."

There was no magic in the Arlington air. Beltre took one strike, and then hit a high pop that Guillermo Heredia caught in shallow center field to end the inning, stranding two runners on base.

The question now is if Beltre will remain a pinch-hitter, or if he can work his way back into a more substantial role, such as designated hitter.

"Obviously, he got down the line," Banister said. "We'll reassess tomorrow where he is at, how he feels each day. Each day he's gotten progressively better, he has done some light jogging, so we'll see. We'll talk to him, gather with the medical staff and see where he is at tomorrow and the next day."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.