ARLINGTON — Nelson Cruz had a simple explanation for his strong start.“I’ve gotten a lot of hits,” Cruz said. “I don’t know. I think I’m staying on the ball more and staying with my approach to keep the ball in the middle of the field.”Cruz has hit safely in every game so far, extending his streak to six games with an infield single in the first inning on Sunday.Cruz went into the game with a .500 average, one home run and four RBIs. Cruz has traditionally gotten off to impressive starts, but struggled last season. He batted .247 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in the first month.“This is not a surprise,” Cruz said.Cruz went on to say that he has no added pressure to do well in a contract year. He knows he’ll hit the free-agent market after the season, and is not sure what his future holds.For now, though, Cruz and the Rangers are pleased with his performance.“It’s always nice to see Cruz swing the bat because he’s such a big part of my lineup,” manager Ron Washington said. “He’s one of the guys we’re going to depend on to drive in the runs.”Sluggish startMitch Moreland had an impressive spring training, batting .377 with 11 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs, but that didn’t translate to the regular season.Moreland started the year 0 for 13 before connecting on a solo homer in the third inning Saturday. Still, his average is below .100 and he knows he has work to do.“You’re going to have your ups and downs and right now it’s just one of those times,” Moreland said. “That’s the way this game goes sometimes. You’ve just got to keep your head down, keep working and it’ll come back around.”Ogando confidentAlexi Ogando couldn’t have asked for a better start in his season debut. He set a career high with 10 strikeouts over 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday against the Astros, and is looking to carry that into his start Monday against the Rays.“I was very confident and that is the most important thing for me,” Ogando said. “My slider and changeup were working well, too.”Ogando’s ability to transition back to being a reliable starter as he was in 2011 is critical for the Rangers’ success, of course, but he said he doesn’t feel that type of pressure.Briefly• Backup catcher Geovany Soto made his first start of the season Sunday. Ron Washington said he took the advice of bench coach Jackie Moore to give A.J. Pierzynski a day off. Washington said he doesn’t have a set plan on how he’ll split playing time at catcher, but reiterated that Pierzynski is his everyday guy.• Washington on Leonys Martin arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Wally Bell on Saturday: “He’s just competing and he’s going to have to figure out how to handle an umpire. Wally told me he wasn’t going to run him; he was going to educate him.”• Washington said the Rangers executed an excellent relay play — David Murphy to Elvis Andrus to Pierzynski — on Saturday in the fifth inning to gun down Howard Kendrick at the plate. Andrus’ throw hit Pierzynski’s mitt perfectly as Kendrick slid into the tag. “That’s exactly what it took to get him,” Washington said. “That’s not going to happen all the time. One out of 10 times and we got it.”• The Rangers will avoid reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price in their series against the Rays this week. Price pitched on Sunday, and the Rays’ scheduled starters are Jeremy Hellickson Monday, Roberto Hernandez on Tuesday and Matt Moore on Wednesday.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison