Nelson Cruz hits 20th homer to help Rangers outslug Yankees

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Nelson Cruz has gone into radio silence regarding his involvement into the Biogenesis of America scandal and the possible 50-game suspension that is looming over him and the Texas Rangers.

That’s probably a wise move for the media-friendly slugger, who badly wants to share his side of the story and see the months-long drama come to an end.

In the meantime, he continues to hit home runs, and rarely this season has he been cheated.

Cruz launched a two-run blast in the seventh inning Wednesday, and the Rangers hung on for an 8-5 victory over New York despite a few white-knuckle innings from their trusty bullpen.

Cruz became the fifth player in franchise history with five consecutive 20-homer seasons. He leads the team in that category as well as RBIs (57) despite being part of the ongoing Major League Baseball investigation into the Miami anti-aging clinic.

But his mind has stayed clear, even with steady media inquiries and an impending chat with investigators.

“I’m calm, and my mind isn’t preoccupied,” Cruz said. “I’ve got God on my side and in my heart. That’s what you need, no matter what happens. I’m don’t worry about it.”

Justin Grimm (7-5) allowed three runs in five-plus innings, but entered the sixth with a 4-1 lead. The first two batters reached against him, though, and manager Ron Washington went to the bullpen for left-hander Robbie Ross against a string of three consecutive left-handed hitters.

The first two, Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner, delivered RBI singles, and the inning ended with the Rangers leading by only one.

Washington liked how Grimm adjusted each time through the lineup, but wanted to put the best pieces of the bullpen in the game even though Grimm had thrown only 78 pitches.

“It was five strong innings, but lately when I get to the fifth and sixth innings, that’s the time I seem to hit a wall,” Grimm said. “I’ve got to keep battling and fighting. I’m not happy being a five-and-dive guy. It’s something I’ll have to figure out.”

But Cruz unloaded on a Joba Chamberlain breaking ball, following a one-out single by Elvis Andrus to put the Rangers back up by three runs.

“I was just trying to hit a line drive,” Cruz said. “I wasn’t thinking about a home run or even swinging hard.”

Up by three again, Ross couldn’t stop the Yankees. They countered in their half of the seventh with a two-run shot by Ichiro Suzuki, who won the game Tuesday with a solo homer in the ninth inning.

But Neal Cotts and Tanner Scheppers got the next four outs ahead of a two-run ninth for the Rangers. Adrian Beltre started the rally with a one-out single, his third hit of the game, and A.J. Pierzynski followed with a towering drive to left field that bounded off center fielder Brett Gardner for a two-base error.

Lance Berkman came through with a single to right field, over a drawn-in infield, and Pierzynski scooted home on a sacrifice fly by Mitch Moreland.

The victory was the Rangers’ 25th comeback win of the season, a mark that leads the major leagues. Lyle Overbay provided the game’s first run with a solo homer off Grimm in the second.

But the Rangers countered quickly with a four-run third inning. They loaded the bases with no outs against Andy Pettitte, and Beltre and Pierzynski delivered back-to-back one-out doubles for a 4-1 lead.

“They’re certainly capable of doing that,” Washington said of the lineup. “Nelson got us a big home run there, and Beltre got us a big double off of Pettitte. We were continuously fighting.”

Cruz, it would seem, is fighting on a daily basis, but he keeps producing for the Rangers.

“I think Nelson is showing what a professional he is,” Washington said. “I don’t think I can even begin to state what he’s thinking, but I haven’t seen it affect him on the field. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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