Nelson Cruz hit a team-high 33 homers in 2009 in his first full season with the Texas Rangers. He appears determined to prove that performance was not a fluke.
Cruz can homer for the sixth time in eight games when the Rangers try for a seventh straight victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.The Rangers right fielder has outhomered the rest of his team 5-2, hitting a two-run shot in the 10th inning of a 4-2 victory Monday that spoiled Cleveland's home opener. Cruz is 11 for 24 with eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs."It's a long season and very early," Cruz said. "I want to keep doing well for the team. We've got a lot of guys who can carry us."Texas (4-3) has won nine of 10 against Cleveland (2-5). The Rangers bullpen came through with four scoreless innings Monday as new closer Neftali Feliz pitched a perfect 10th for the save.Frank Francisco earned the win with a perfect ninth in his first appearance since blowing back-to-back save opportunities, struggles that caused manager Ron Washington to promote Feliz.The Indians are hoping center fielder Grady Sizemore will return after missing two games with tightness in his back. Sizemore's injury is not believed to be serious, but his absence is noteworthy because the three-time All-Star once played in 382 straight games.The Rangers will give the ball to C.J. Wilson, who is still in search of his first victory as a starter as he returns to the place where he last started before this season.Wilson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) had a rough time as a rookie in 2005, going 0-5 with a 12.05 ERA in six starts before being shifted to the bullpen. That starting stint culminated with a 9-4 road loss to the Indians on Aug. 18 of that year in which the left-hander gave up five runs over 2 2/3 innings.Texas (4-3) opted to move Wilson into the rotation for 2010 and he was stellar in a 3-1 loss to Toronto on Thursday, allowing five hits over seven scoreless innings."You can't say enough about what C.J. did," Washington told MLB.com. "He moved his fastball around, had his changeup and slider, he had everything working. When he needed to, he was able to bear down and get the job done."Since his lone start versus the Indians, Wilson has posted a 2.00 ERA in 18 relief appearances against them with 24 strikeouts and two walks. Cleveland third baseman Jhonny Peralta is 1 for 10 with seven strikeouts against him.Justin Masterson (0-0, 1.80) will oppose Wilson after allowing one run and four hits over five innings of a 5-3, 11-inning road win over Chicago on Thursday."I felt good about that last outing," he said. "Overall, I felt good and felt I had command and was throwing strikes."The right-hander has never started against the Rangers, pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief against them over four appearances.