Urban: Giants' Beltran plays MJ for a day

August 3, 2011, 10:34 pm
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Aug. 3, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- Is he Batman or Robin?Jordan or Pippen?Washington or Adams?Or if you prefer a more genre-specific example: Bonds or Kent?Who, exactly, is Carlos Beltran?That's what we're about to find out.

Maybe it's an unfair question, the answer to which might have been very different a number of years ago. After Beltran got moved from Kansas City to Houston, for instance, he was very much Batman, Jordan, Washington and Bonds. Especially Bonds. Have you seen the guy's numbers in the 2004 playoffs? Under immense pressure as the expected savior of the Astros offense, he banged out 10 hits -- including four homers and two doubles -- in 22 at-bats during the National League Division Series against the Braves, and just for kicks he threw in a couple of stolen bases.With the pressure intensified in the NL Championship Series, Beltran again pounded out 10 hits -- again with four homers, plus a double and four stolen bases -- over 24 at-bats against the Cardinals.Granted, that was seven years ago. Beltran was 27 and in the absolute prime of his career. He's 34 now, with a history of knee issues that have turned one of the best all-around center fielders of his generation into a mere quality corner man. But based on what we've seen over the past several days at AT&T Park, he doesn't appear yet ready to concede that he's Robin, Pippen, Adams or Kent.Shrugging off a slow start that surely had folks wringing their hands over the immediate future of both the Giants and Zack Wheeler, Beltran caught fire when the Giants got home to AT&T Park, rapping out a pair of triples among his six hits in three games against the hot-in-pursuit Diamondbacks, including a monster game Wednesday to help the champs avoid what would have been a seriously disheartening sweep.He didn't go deep, so we can't call him Bondsian just yet. But coming up large when your team absolutely has to have it from you, and when everyone in the crowd is expecting it from you, well, that's at least got a touch of Jordan to it.