Extra Bases: Nelson Cruz delivers again
|Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Rangers' sweep of the Red Sox, if Yu Darvish has been even better than expected and what moves we could see the club make before the trade deadline. |
It's when his hits are coming that sticks out most through 30 games. On this homestand alone, Cruz got the Rangers back in two games they eventually went on ti win.
On Tuesday, he hit a solo home run to cut the Chicago White Sox's lead to 2-1 in the fourth inning. White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago had been cruising along up until Cruz's sixth homer. Jeff Baker made it back-to-back home runs to tie the score and the Rangers went on to pull away for a 10-6 victory.
Cruz was back at it Sunday. With Jon Lester leading the Rangers 3-1 and only giving up three hits entering the sixth inning, Cruz came up with another pivotal hit after Adrian Beltre's one out single. Cruz crushed a hanging curveball from Lester over the center-field fence to tie the score at 3.
He later watched from the on-deck circle as Beltre won the game with a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
Beltre pointed to Cruz and Ian Kinsler's hot start to one of the reasons the Rangers are 20-11 to start the season.
"Nelson and Ian have been the key for us the first five weeks of the season," Beltre said. "They've been huge for us. I don't we'd be where we are without those two guys. They are picking the team up until the rest of the guys get hot."
Cruz said after Sunday's game that he doesn't think about clutch moments or key hits when the Rangers are down. But his manager and teammates notice.
"I don't think about that stuff," Cruz said. 'You try to go out there and do your best every at-bat."
Right now, Cruz is getting it done.
Pierzynski swings and misses: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski asked manager Ron Washington to keep him in the lineup Sunday and he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Expect to see Pierzynski back out there the next three games against the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers with right-handers starting each game. Pierzynski is in a 13-for-73 slide, so a Geovany Soto start in the next three days won't be surprising.
Kinsler's streak: Kinsler will take an 11-game hitting streak on the nine-game road trip. It's his longest streak since he hit in 12 straight in July, 2011. It's the longest by a Ranger this season.
Moreland vs. lefties: At some point it might be time to stop talking about first baseman Mitch Moreland against left-handed pitching. He has 10 hits in his last 20-bats against lefties and he hit his first homer off a southpaw Sunday since Aug. 25, 2011. Moreland is 21 for his last 52 overall to raise his average from .157 to .282, fourth-best on the team.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.