Scott Miller: ‘Yankees Need Beltran’s Clutch Bat’

The Pittsburgh Pirates had their way with the New York Mets at Citi Field this weekend, taking all three games by a combined score of 16-6. The Pirates won the first two games in extra innings before blowing out the Mets, 8-1, on Sunday.

Pittsburgh has now outscored New York 37-10 in six games this year and has never trailed.

Isn’t this a problem for the Mets (63-55)? No, they’re not in the same division as the Pirates (69-47), but both teams will likely make the playoffs, and if you can’t beat a certain team, isn’t that cause for concern?

“Yeah, you’re right,” Bleacher Report national MLB columnist Scott Miller said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The way they’re looking right now, no question the Pirates and Mets both look like they could be playoff teams, and that will be a problem. For whatever reason, sometimes teams just don’t match up well against each other. The Pirates had the same thing going against the Milwaukee Brewers a couple of years ago, and it was incredible. I think the Pirates couldn’t beat the Brewers and it went about 20 wins to 3 in one direction three or four years ago before it started evening out. It’s bizarre. You would think the Mets, with all that starting pitching, would be fine. But I think (it’s) a combination of the Mets don’t score, their bullpen hasn’t held the leads late and Pittsburgh’s bullpen has been nails.”

Across town in the American League, meanwhile, the Yankees appear to have righted the ship after a recent skid. After losing five straight games – including three straight at home against the Blue Jays – New York has won four of five and took a weekend series in Toronto.

Carlos Beltran helped stop the bleeding with a pinch-hit, three-run homer in last Friday’s 4-3 win over the Jays.

“No question about it, (that) was (huge),” Miller said. “As you mentioned the previous weekend, the Jays swept them in New York, so the Yankees needed to answer that – and they did in a big way. The Friday-night, eighth-inning, pinch-hit home run by Carlos Beltran – how about that? It’s a day off for Beltran, and he contributed more to the Yankees on a day off than in all of his work days – so-called work days – before that all season long.”

Beltran, 38, is hitting .268 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs this season. He has three homers in his last four games, including a two-run shot in the Yankees’ 8-7 win over Minnesota on Monday.

“That’s the kind of stuff the Yankees are going to need,” Miller said. “Early in the year, (Mark) Teixeira and A-Rod carried their offense for so long and those guys both are starting to look a little bit gassed. They’re going to need some help from other areas of their offense. If Beltran can maybe come up with some late-season lightning here, that’s going to help them immensely.”

The Yankees (65-52) have a one-game lead over the Blue Jays (66-54) in the standings, but there’s obviously a long way to go. Still, Scott Ferrall feels that Beltran is similar to Pablo Sandoval in that the bigger the game, the better he plays.

Miller agreed.

“(Nationally, people) view Pablo Sandoval as a superstar, and they couldn’t understand how the Giants can let that guy walk away,” Miller said. “But Sandoval, he’s kind of like a modern-day Mr. October, but during the season he was very inconsistent. Beltran was very similar. In October and the big games, he’s come up clutch so much, so often.”

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