ARLINGTON, Texas -- This isn't exactly a Rangers team unaccustomed to feats of strength with the bat. After all, they've had a chance to witness Josh Hamilton at batting practice and at Yankee Stadium in the Home Run Derby in 2008. And they've seen Nelson Cruz pound balls out to all directions.
But the crushing blow Cruz put into a ball thrown by Clay Buchholz in the seventh in Sunday's 5-1 win over the Red Sox to complete a three-game sweep was one that caused plenty of awe. Cruz hit an opposite-field home run into the upper deck above the Rangers' bullpen. According to Eric Nadel (a trusted source when it comes to games at the park), only one other right-handed batter for any team has hit an opposite-field upper-deck homer to right, and that was Chad Curtis on May 17, 2000, vs. Tampa Bay.
"I’ve never seen anything like that," said Kinsler, who wasn't around then. "I’m thinkingthat ball is going to go over the bullpen and maybe hit someone in the chest and leave a little bruise. It kept going and took off and before you know it, it's in the upper deck. That doesn't make sense. He’s incredibly strong. It was definitely impressive."
Cruz said he knew it was gone the minute hit it.
"Maybe the wind helped me a little bit," said Cruz. The wind was blowing from the south at 29 mph when the game started, so that did create a nice jet stream. "It was blowing out. I knew it was going. If they make a mistake, you have to make them pay."
Michael Young wasn't surprised that if someone was going to do it from the right side that it was Cruz.
"The wind was blowing today, but that ball was killed," Young said. "It was hit on a line. I would say that Nellie is the only guy I know capable of that kind of power to right field. Right-handed hitters just don't do that. He's a strong man with a lot of power. We just have to keep that man healthy. He’s going to have a phenomenal season."
The homer was the final one hit in the series by the Rangers and maybe it was fitting that it was the longest at 424 feet. BTW, ESPN Stats & Information's Adam Grigely tracked the ball at 447 feet using Hit Tracker. Texas hit 11 homers in the series and pounded out 20 extra-base hits. Cruz and Kinsler became the first pair of teammates to hit home runs in three straight games to start a season.
Kinsler thinks Cruz could hit a ball like that again.
"He’s the boomstick, you know what I mean?" Kinsler said. "He's capable. He's got a ton of leverage, tons of strength, squares the ball up quite often. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do it again."