MINNEAPOLIS — Getting on hot streaks at the plate is something Nelson Cruz has done his entire career.He opened the 2011 season with home runs in the first four games. In 2010, he hit .340 in July and had six homers the final month of the season. And nobody can forget the six-homer, 13-RBI performance during the 2011 ALCS vs. Detroit.Cruz is in the midst of another one of those streaks. He went 4 for 11 with two home runs and seven RBIs in three games against the Los Angeles Angels, and had an RBI single off the right-field wall to bring in the Rangers’ first run against the Twins on Thursday.The reason for his recent success?“I don’t know the exact reason, but I prepared well this off-season by playing winter ball and in the WBC,” Cruz said. “It’s just nice to be able to produce when the team needs you.”Manager Ron Washington wasted no time revealing the key for Cruz’s success. Washington has said it countless times, but reiterated once again that Cruz is at his best when he keeps the ball in the big part of the field.“I keep reminding him that’s where he does his best damage,” Washington said. “All I hope is he keeps coming up big.”Darvish revisitedYu Darvish continues to impress in his sophomore season.He threw six shutout innings against the Angels on Wednesday, making three of his first five starts scoreless outings with at least six innings pitched, 10 or more strikeouts and three or fewer hits. Darvish is only the seventh AL pitcher since 1916 with three such games in a season, and the first to do it in his team’s first 21 games.“This is about as dominant as I’ve seen someone,” Ron Washington said.Darvish drew even more buzz Thursday when Drew Sheppard, a regular poster on the blog Lone Star Ball, put together a GIF (graphics interchange format) sequence that showed Darvish throwing five of his pitches at once.Mitch Moreland and Derek Holland were among the players impressed by the video.“That’s pretty cool,” Moreland said.Rehab updatesOutside of the Joakim Soria setback earlier this week, Rangers rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock sounded pleased when giving the progress reports on the pitchers rehabbing in Arizona.Here’s the latest from Comstock:• Colby Lewis, recovering from flexor tendon surgery, will throw live batting practice Friday and is scheduled to return to game action in extended spring training Monday. He is slated for 1-2 innings and 35-40 pitches, and could be ready to return by late May.“He’s done a nice job of not pushing himself too hard, and now he’s getting into a higher rate of intensity,” Comstock said.• Martin Perez, who broke his left forearm in spring training, is scheduled to throw two innings — 18 pitches each inning — in an extended spring game Saturday.“Like Colby, he is kind of in spring training mode as far as where his arm is at, and he’s getting stronger and stronger,” Comstock said.• Soria, coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery, strained a pectoral muscle earlier this week, which will delay his return by at least a month.“He was the furthest along, but it could have been worse,” Comstock said. “At least it wasn’t a shoulder or elbow. Just have to regroup a little bit.”• Other notables include Neftali Feliz (Tommy John), who is long-tossing at 105-feet, and Kyle McClellan (strained right lat), who is long-tossing and could throw off a mound in early May.Briefly• Closer Joe Nathan on his second return to Minnesota as an opposing player: “It’s definitely nice and always a joy to come back to a place that gave me so many good memories.”• Ron Washington said Geovany Soto would be catching Justin Grimm on Friday. A.J. Pierzynski did not want Thursday off despite the late-night flight and catching every inning in the Angels series.• Utility man Jeff Baker said his bruised right knee is progressing well and hopes to be available Friday.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison