KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Nelson Cruz is a first-rate minor league slugger. On Monday night, he showed the Royals he could do it at the major league level, too.
Cruz had three hits including a three-run homer in his season debut, and the Texas Rangers beat Kansas City 9-4."You call that sudden impact," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I'm not thinking about the past. All that matters for Cruz is what he does from this point on."Cruz, promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma earlier in the day, homered in the third with Josh Hamilton and Marlon Byrd aboard. Cruz hit .342 with 37 home runs at Oklahoma and led the minors with a .693 slugging percentage.Cruz has always been able to hit in the minors, but in his limited major league experience had just a .231 average with 15 home runs in 145 games spread out over three seasons.Cruz said he "definitely" feels that this is his time."I'm prepared for this," he said. "I've been down there doing everything to be back. I've been seeing the ball really well. This game takes the pressure off and makes me more relaxed."Last July 28, Cruz was recalled from the minors and had two homers and five RBIs at Kansas City in his first game after being recalled from Oklahoma."The last time he came up, that's what he did in Kansas City," Washington said. "He was very aggressive and swung the bat very well. I like the aggressiveness and how he attacked the balls that were in the zone."Cruz doubled in the second and singled in the fifth."It's nice to see him back up here," winning pitcher Scott Feldman said. "I knew he was killing the ball in Triple-A."Feldman (5-5), winless in five starts since a July 21 victory over the Chicago White Sox, gave up three runs -- two earned -- and eight hits in seven innings."I tried to work quick and keep a good tempo throughout the game," Feldman said. "I was really focused on hitting my spots. Nobody wants to start 1-and-0, 2-and-0 to guys. I made a conscious effort tonight to throw a strike and strike two, also. It is good to pitch well and win."Milton Bradley, Michael Young and Joaquin Arias also had three hits and the Rangers had 19, one shy of their season high. Every Rangers starter had at least one hit and six had at least two to help Texas win for the second time in eight games.Bradley drove in three runs, giving him a career-high 68 RBIs. Chris Davis led off the eighth with his 13th home run.The Royals have lost eight of nine and 15 of 18.Royals right-hander Gil Meche (10-10) gave up a career-high 14 hits, allowing five runs in 6 1/3 innings to lose for the first time since July 2. He had been 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break."I could never get it going," Meche said. "It was bad. I left a lot of pitches up. I left a lot of breaking balls hanging. My fastball wasn't good. That's one of the games you want to just forget about and just keep moving on."Meche is 0-4 against the Rangers since last beating them on April 28, 2005, while with Seattle."I would say it's a coincidence because he's a very good pitcher," Washington said. "Tonight when he got in trouble, he worked out of it. We got five runs off him, but could have had 10 or 11, but that is what good pitchers do."The Royals were down 5-3 after seven innings, but the Rangers sent eight men to the plate in a four-run eighth, which included a run-producing single by Hamilton, bringing his RBI total to a major league-leading 116.David DeJesus had three of Kansas City's 10 hits, including a RBI single in the third.Alberto Callaspo's third inning single scored John Buck, who had doubled.Billy Butler and Ross Gload had two hits each, and Gload and Buck added RBIs for Kansas City.
The 14 hits off Meche were the most allowed by a Royals pitcher since RHP Jeff Suppan gave up 14 in a 10-1 loss on July 23, 2002, at Detroit. ... Young had his 16th career game with three or more hits. He needs 45 hits in the final 30 games to reach 200 for a sixth consecutive season. ... Cruz became the 53rd player used by the Rangers, which breaks a club record for players in a season. The Rangers used 52 in 1992, 2003 and 2004.