As Mondays go, this one was a pretty good one for the Rangers.
In Chicago, they got Colby Lewis's first career shutout to go with a continued offensive resurgence for Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler. And down Frisco way, Nelson Cruz took a big step toward his expected Friday return to the lineup by playing in a rehab game for the RoughRiders.
Cruz went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk against Midland. That's a nice night's work and it is made all the better by the fact that his quadriceps was no worse for the wear after his efforts.
If you care about such matters, Frisco won the game 3-2 thanks to a rally that included Cruz's double in the eighth. His drive into the gap scored Leonys Martin from first base and a Tommy Mendonca homer followed it to account for all the scoring in the come from behind win.
Those runs came in support of another good start from Martin Perez. The left-hander struck out 10 while pitching into the eighth inning, the first time he's pitched that deep into a game in his brief professional career.
It would be silly to take one Double-A game and try to extrapolate it into a grand statement of the future of a franchise, but you'd be forgiven for seeing more than a simple rehab assignment at work on Monday night. Cruz is obviously due back with the big boys, but Martin and Perez are giving reason to believe they aren't going to be far behind.
Martin stole a base and made a great catch to go with his dash from first to score on Cruz's double. He's now hitting .318 since joining the RoughRiders to show that, if nothing else, a long layoff didn't leave much rust on the chassis while Martin made his way from Cuba to the minor leagues.
Perez now has 42 strikeouts in 40.2 innings on the season to go with a 2.68 ERA. He's just 20 so he's probably not going to be next in line to fill a need on the staff, but more of the same is going to make it harder to keep counting on retreads like Scott Feldman when needs do arise.
If all goes well, Cruz will be a key part of the Rangers lineup with both of the regular members of the Frisco nine for years to come. If those years include many nights like Monday, it'll be a happy partnership.