When the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Nelson Cruz a week before the trade deadline, they saw him as the perfect upgrade to their lineup, a threat of power that would do a lot of damage, and a presence that would appeal to everyone around him. They imagined many nights like Tuesday night.
Cruz hit two home runs and drove in five runs in the 39th game of his career with multiple homers, while catcher Mike Zunino homered in his fifth straight game:
Cruz had been on a 0-for-12 streak when he faced the left-hander of the Los Orioles, John Means, in the fifth inning. But his mini-crash ended with two big changes on Tuesday night.
Cruz crushed a left change for his first home run at Tropicana Field since joining the Rays, a three-run shot that gave them a 6-0 lead. In the sixth, he threw a 437-foot blast projected by Statcast to knock out reliever Tanner Scott, a two-run shot to the moon that pushed him past Dave Kingman (442) and into 42nd place on the league leaderboard. home runs of all time.
Cruz said he’s been doing extra work lately to make his swing feel good, but the Rays were hardly worried about Cruz. Yet even when he hasn’t been hitting the balls like he did Tuesday, Cash said his impact on the Rays’ lineup has been obvious.