ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of night for most ballplayers, if they’re lucky.
Nelson Cruz has done it twice now, a testament to his tremendous talent. That doesn’t make the second eight-RBI game in Cruz’s career -- and sixth in Rangers history -- any less special.
“You dream about those kind of days,” Cruz said after going 4-for-5 with a three-run double, an upper-deck, opposite-field grand slam and eight RBIs in Friday’s 14-3 rout of the Blue Jays.
Folks around these parts can also dream about the potent potential of this lineup if Cruz can go on a tear.
Just look at last season’s American League Championship Series, when Cruz had six homers and 13 RBIs in six games, for evidence of what the man known as Boomstick can do when he gets hot.
“Nellie is one of those guys that you can kind of smell it in the air when he’s getting going,” Michael Young said. “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.”
There have been recent signs that Cruz was getting in a groove after a slow start. He was 21-of-62 (.339) with two homers and 11 RBIs in the previous 16 games, although he cooled off on the Rangers’ last road trip, going 5-of-22 with no extra-base hits. He came back after the Rangers’ first day off in almost three weeks refreshed and ready to rake.
Cruz came up with the bases loaded in the first inning and lined a Brandon Morrow pitch into the right-center gap for a three-run double. The direction of the hit was as important as the result.
“That’s when he’s at his best,” manager Ron Washington said, referring to Cruz driving balls to the opposite field.
Cruz’s best came with the bases loaded again in the seventh inning. You won’t see many opposite-field blasts more impressive than the grand slam he drove an estimated 405 feet into the upper deck of the home run porch.
That turned a great night into one of the best in franchise history. Cruz, whose previous eight-RBI performance came against the Blue Jays last season, is suddenly tied for sixth in the American League with 31 RBIs.
“You work almost a whole month to put up those type of RBIs,” Washington said. “He did it in one night. That’s definitely what he’s capable of doing. I hope it’s something that he can continue. Maybe not drive in eight runs, but just continue to have good at-bats and good things will happen.”
When Cruz has good at-bats, great things tend to happen.