ARLINGTON, Texas -- The second time the New York Yankees decided to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton in the fifth inning to face cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero instead, Nelson Cruz, who bats behind Guerrero in the order, had a message for his friend.
"In that moment, I went to him and said, 'Don't let them do that to you. Don't let them do it,'" Nelson said. "He come through like he comes through all year long."
The Yankees had just tied the score at 1-1 on a controversial run. In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees decided to put Hamilton on first with Michael Young on second and two out. Guerrero, who bounced into a fielder's choice to score a run after Hamilton's single in the first, crushed Phil Hughes' second pitch, a fast ball, deep to center field to score both runners for a 3-1 lead.
Those two RBIs, plus the one he collected in the first, tripled Guerrero's run production in the previous 10 playoff games.
"Good for him to come through with that big hit," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "That was signature Vlad Guerrero."
Cruz said watching Guerrero's shot from the on-deck circle fired him up.
"That woke me up, too," Nelson said. "It got me emotional, too."
Then Cruz did Guerrero one better, taking reliever Dave Robertson out of the park on a line drive to center field to bring Guerrero home and open up a 5-1 lead on the defending champions.
"I was flying," Cruz said of his trip around the bases. "I don't think I was putting my feet into the ground."