In debut as 1B, Cruz was key for Rays

PHILADELPHIA – Nelson Cruz emerged from the COVID-19 list, played in the first team for the first time in his career and hit a two-run double in the eighth inning of the game the Tampa Bay Rays won 3-1 on Tuesday night. the Philadelphia Phillies.

Cruz, 41, a designated hitter for Tampa Bay, had never played first base, not even in the minor leagues. However, he controlled well all the balls that came to him.

“It’s been a long time since I had so much fun,” he said.

The Dominican had not played defense since he was placed as left fielder in 2018 with Seattle.

In the first inning, with two men on board, Didi Gregorius hit a ground ball that Dominican shortstop Wander Franco captured on the grass behind the infield.

Franco threw to his compatriot Cruz, who rightly caught the ball from the pot soon, ending the inning.

Cruz had been absent from the game the Rays beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, given that he was on the COVID-19 list. However, he remained active before Tuesday’s engagement.

Manager Kevin Cash put him in first base in order to have his bat in a National League park, where there is no designated hitter.

In the first inning, Cruz singled, the same as in the sixth, before hitting Archie Bradley (7-2) in the eighth. Venezuelan Odubel Herrera could not catch the ball in left field, as Brett Phillips and Cuban Randy Arozarena scored.

There, Cruz’s work ended. Cuban Yandy Díaz replaced him at first in the bottom of the eighth inning.

“He looked pretty comfortable there,” Cash said.

JT Chargois (2-0) struck out his only rival in the seventh and won.

For the Rays, the Cubans Arozarena 3-1 with a run scored, Diaz 4-1. The Dominicans Cruz 4-3 with two RBIs, Franco 4-1 with a run scored, Manuel Margot 3-0.

For the Phillies, Venezuelans Odubel Herrera 4-0, Ronald Torreyes 3-0, Ranger Suárez 1-0. The Dominican Jean Segura 4-0.