Cruz has another star-worthy performance

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan is a lock to make the American League All-Star team. Manager Ron Washington said so Friday.

Outfielder Nelson Cruz deserves to be on the team when it's announced on Saturday.

Cruz has done everything the Rangers could ask of him this season, carrying the offense in April and sliding into the No. 3 spot in the lineup last month with positive results. His second-inning grand slam was the big blow in the Rangers' 10-5 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

Cruz leads all AL outfielders with 21 home runs and 65 RBIs. If that's not worthy of being selected for the team, then what is? He was sixth among AL outfielders in the latest voting released July 1.

Cruz, who hit his sixth career grand slam on Friday night, said the first 86 games of the season have been memorable.

"It's special," Cruz said. "The season isn't over yet."

The Rangers led 2-0 when Cruz came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the second. He fell behind 1-2 to Astros starter Lucas Harrell, but that didn't faze him. Cruz drilled a two-seam fastball on a line into the visitors bullpen in left-center field for a 6-0 lead.


"I'm in a good situation to drive in runs with [Ian] Kinsler and all those guys getting on base," Cruz said. "I got enough wood on it."

Cruz said he's been pitched mostly the same way since moving into the No. 3 spot behind Adrian Beltre, who hit his third home run in two games to give the Rangers a 9-0 lead. Cruz is batting .307 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in the 15 games since moving up in the lineup.

"I didn't want to move Beltre there," Washington said. "It's working."

Cruz's teammates support his All-Star bid; isn't that right, Adrian Beltre?

"Yes," he said. "No doubt."