Cruz Cruising In Cleanup Role

The 28 year-old has five home runs in his last six games

As the Rangers were being whipped in front of a packed house on Monday, those straggling few that made it to the ninth inning (a great deal Yankees fans, no doubt) were treated to Nelson Cruz’s 12th home run of the season, the only semblance of offense, more or less, that Texas could muster. (Although Cruz also doubled in the game.)
Now, this only drew the deficit to 10 and, inasmuch wasn’t all that remarkable.
What makes it so remarkable is that this was Cruz’s fifth home run in his past six games.
In the past week, Cruz has recorded 11 hits in 27 at bats, seven of which went for extra bases and five of which were round-trippers. He has hit .407 in this span, with a .448 on base percentage and a -- seriously -- 1.037 slugging percentage.
This includes the game-winning shot in Houston to take the opener last Friday.
Cruz was thought by some to have the potential for a breakout year in 2009, similar to the one the White Sox Carlos Quentin had in 2008.
After this late stretch, that doesn’t look to be all that far off from reality.
Quentin finished 2008 with 35 home runs, and a .288 average. He was voted to the all-star game for the first time in his career, and even got some MVP votes, eventually finishing fifth.
If Cruz continues even near his current pace, there’s a good shot that he might get some similar recognition.
To be sure, there is some good reason to think that the 28 year-old will fall back to earth, somewhat. Cruz traversed something of a rough patch just before making an adjustment, that which resulted in this most recent explosion of numbers.
But the way Cruz is swinging right now, as Carlos Quentin found out in 2008, the national media, and the recognition that comes with it, might just be right around the corner.
Particularly if Texas can turn around from Monday’s embarrassing loss, and extend on their three-game lead in the West.

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