Cruz was at it again on Monday, mashing two homers (the seventh multi-homer game of his career) and driving in four runs. In 14 games since returning from the disabled list (quad muscle), Cruz is hitting .295 with 12 extra-base hits, including seven homers and 15 RBIs.
The club’s run production has increased since Hamilton and Cruz returned to the lineup on May 23. That’s not simply a coincidence. The sluggers give the team pop in the middle of the order, not only helping the general run production but enabling the players around them to get better pitches to hit. It has that kind of ripple effect.
"Anytime you have a guy like Josh Hamilton hitting in the 3-spot, naturally that puts you in a better position offensively," hitting coach Thad Bosley said. "The significance of his presence in and of itself is huge to any lineup. Then when you add Nelson Cruz to it, that’s like pick your poison. It means at any time in any count, one pass of the ball can change the game."
Numbers tell the story. When Cruz and Hamilton were both on the disabled list for 17 games in May, the Rangers were 8-9. They averaged 3.3 runs per game with 11 homers and hit .237 as a team in those games.
Since Hamilton and Cruz returned, the Rangers are 10-4 and are averaging 6.1 runs per game. The team is hitting .293 and has 25 home runs in that 14-game span. Texas has won four straight series since the two returned but will need to win the next two nights against the Tigers to keep the streak alive.
"They have the ability to add to that production with extra-base hits, and that doesn’t mean just homers," Bosley said. "So the key is to have guys on base in front of them, and we’ve done a good job of that lately. We’ve been in situations where they’ve hit the ball and it’s produced two or three runs."