"After I got two strikes I just tried to drive the ball," Cruz said after the Rangers' 4-3 victory in 10 innings Saturday over the Minnesota Twins. “It was a team effort."
It was the fifth walk-off hit of Cruz's career, and it came after being moved up from sixth to fifth in the batting order. Cruz switched places with Michael Young, who has struggled to a .209 average over the 24 games prior to Saturday's win.
Cruz said his place in the order had nothing to do with his success.
"I don't see any difference," Cruz said. "When the inning starts, everybody’s first and third."
Rangers manager Ron Washington was also not ready to claim that his move to put Cruz in the five-hole was a stroke of brilliance.
"I'm not going to pat myself on the back," Washington said. "It just came out of my pen that way."
Whether Washington takes credit or not, it would appear to have been the right move. Cruz was the only Ranger to have hits with runners in scoring position, hitting RBI doubles in the second and 10th innings to drive in Adrian Beltre. Josh Hamilton and Beltre hit solo home runs in the fourth and sixth, respectively. The team was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, driving its total up to 2-for-18 in this series and 16-for-71 in the last nine games.
"Cruz swung the bat well tonight," Washington said. "We were due to finally put something together offensively, although it was four runs. We kept swinging and getting runners out there, we just able to get as many in as we would like but we got the one in that was important. We battled tonight. We didn't stop. Then finally in the 10th, Cruz and Beltre took care of things for us."
Stranding runners in scoring position has not been the only problem with the Rangers' offense recently. Hitters up and down the order have struggled to make contact and score in key situations. Beltre said he thinks the team is overthinking at the plate.
"I think we’re all trying to do too much knowing that we haven’t swung the bat the way we wanted to," He said. "We’re going to go through little funks like that. We know we’re a really good offensive ball club and we’re going to get out of it."
Regardless of recent struggles, Beltre and Cruz agreed that snapping the losing streak in dramatic fashion was a huge confidence boost for the team.
"We were desperate to win again," Beltre said. "Hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow and go into the half with a winning streak."
Even after losing five straight, the Rangers are still tied with the New York Yankees for the most wins in the majors with a 51-34 record and hold a 4 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. The Rangers have managed to still win ballgames in spite of a wave of injuries that have plagued the clubhouse for the last month.
Cruz said it is nothing this team can't handle.
"It’s going to happen, we’ve been through that before," Cruz said. "We know what it takes to revive and we showed that today."