SAN FRANCISCO -- It might look as if Carlos Beltran turns up the heat in October, but the Cardinals outfielder insists the opposite is true.
This is the time of year he relaxes.
"I'm just enjoying myself. I don't feel pressure," Beltran said after hitting his 14th career postseason home run in St. Louis' 6-4 victory Sunday. "I don't feel like I need to do something special."
Beltran's low-key approach tends to put the stress on opponents, as the Giants found out in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park. His two-run home run off Madison Bumgarner capped the Cardinals' scoring and proved to be difference.
In his playoff career, Beltran now averages a home run every 7.7 at-bats.
That's the best postseason HR/AB rate of all time. Second place belongs to a guy named Babe Ruth, who hit a homer every 8.6 at-bats in the World Series.
"I'm seeing the ball well right now," Beltran acknowledged.
Beltran, who played 44 games as a late-season acquisition for the Giants last season, was booed during his pregame introductions. But that didn't fire him up. If anything, it reminded him to control his emotions and dial things back.
The Cardinals were already ahead 4-0 against Bumgarner in the fourth inning by the time Beltran came up with Jon Jay on first base. The switch-hitter crushed a 2-2 cut fastball into the left field seats.
The home crowd groaned. The ball was fired back onto the
Beltran rounding the bases was a familiar sight. His 14 postseason home runs put him in a tie with Nelson Cruz and Jayson Werth for the fourth most among active major leaguers.
His eight home runs in the LCS ties him with Cruz and Steve Garvey for fifth most.
In a weird way, Beltran owes his October prowess to the Kansas City Royals. The seven-time All-Star spent most of his first seven seasons with that struggling franchise. By the time he finally reached the playoffs -- with the Houston Astros in 2004 -- Beltran had a profound appreciation for October's grand stage.
"I was so happy to be able to play in meaningful games and try to win a championship," Beltran recalled Sunday. "I'd never experienced anything like it. I was just so excited that I just told myself to go out there and have fun and try not to do too much.
"And I went out there, and good things happened for me."
Beltran hit .409 during the LDS against the Washington Nationals in the previous round. He had two homers in a Game 2 victory.