ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27: Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers watches the ball after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning during Game Six of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Down the stretch in 2010, Nelson Cruz played some games hitting in the third spot in the Texas Rangers' lineup and was a rousing hit.
Manager Ron Washington finally realized that Lance Berkman wasn't cutting it in the 3-hole with his extended struggles pretty much since the calendar turned over to May and decided to do something about it with hopes the Rangers' offense could break out of their two-week funk.
On Monday, it was Ian Kinsler hitting third as the Rangers scored eight runs, and on Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski got the call, driving in the Rangers' only two runs in a disappointing loss when the Rangers got just three singles on the night. Then, Wednesday night it was Cruz's turn, and he passed with flying colors, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Kinsler is the team's leadoff man, and that's not going to change. Pierzynski is going really well right now and could maybe fill the role from time to time, but probably not be counted on to produce there every night.
Even Cruz, who is one of baseball's streakiest, probably isn't a long-term option in the third spot, where you want someone who will constantly produce and be feared by opposing pitchers. But while Cruz is in this hot streak, Washington should ride it out and get the most out of him.
When Cruz inevitably cools off, one option could be putting Mitch Moreland in the 3-hole after it seems like he's figured something out and really turned into a good big-league hitter and also has good power.
Wednesday night's game marked the 50th different batting order Washington has used this season — a pretty remarkable thought — but it might have been one he wants to stick with, at least for a while.