May 11, 2012; St. Louis, MO. USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran (3) hits a two run triple in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
(The Cardinal Nation Show / Detroit Free Press) -- Tonight marks the return to Detroit of gentlemanly Carlos Beltran, who is spectacularly adding to his exploits this season, but whose name conjures up for Tigers fans the image of two strikeouts.
The first came on Sept. 27, 1999, when Beltran was wrapping up his rookie-of-the-year season for Kansas City. He struck out against Todd Jones, becoming the final batter ever at Tiger Stadium.
On Oct. 19, 2006, Beltran had another at-bat with two outs in the ninth. This one came for the Mets in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against St. Louis.
On an 0-2 count, right-handed reliever Adam Wainwright threw the switch-hitting Beltran a curve. He took it for strike three. The Cardinals had reached the World Series, where they beat the Tigers in five games.
Beltran hit two homers for the Mets at Comerica Park last June, then went to the Giants for the playoff stretch. In the off-season, the Cardinals signed Beltran as a free agent to help make up for the loss of Albert Pujols.
That makes Beltran a teammate of Wainwright, the pitcher who fanned him for the pennant-clinching out in 2006.
Beltran, 35, returns to Detroit tonight with 19 homers. That tied him as of Monday for the NL lead with Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. He recently became the eighth player in history with 300 homers and 300 steals.
THOME TIME? Jim Thome, 41, looks ripe for a return to the AL. After not driving in a run all season in sporadic play with the Phillies, he returned to DH duties on a just-completed interleague trip. In nine games, he hit four homers and drove in 14 runs.
There isn't any indication the Tigers have interest in obtaining Thome, their longtime tormentor. He bats left-handed and the Tigers are short of right-handed bats; plus, Thome would knock someone off both the Tigers' major league roster and their 40-man protected list.
BASERUNNING TEST: Quintin Berry and Austin Jackson have combined to steal 15 bases without getting thrown out. In this series they face St. Louis' Yadier Molina, who in a recent players' poll in Sports Illustrated was voted the best-throwing catcher in the majors. Molina received 71% of the votes; no other catcher received more than 3%.