Nelson Cruz is having series for the ages
October, 12, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
DETROIT -- Nelson Cruz and his Boomstick are going where few men have gone before.
In Game 2, he became the first player in postseason history to hit a walk-off grand slam. His 11th-inning smash won Game 2 for the Texas Rangers. In Wednesday's Game 4, his three-run blast in the 11th inning -- jumping all over Jose Valverde's first-pitch sinker -- extended the Rangers' 4-3 lead to a much more comfortable 7-3 cushion that moved Texas one win away from a return trip to the World Series.
"It's almost like there's Nellie," David Murphy said," and then there's postseason Nellie."
In the series, Cruz, almost laughably batting seventh in the order, has four home runs -- one to tie Game 2, one to win Game 2 and one to give Game 4 breathing room. He has five hits: four homers and one a double. He has 18 total bases; Josh Hamilton is second with eight. Cruz has nine RBIs; Ian Kinsler is second with three. Cruz is hitting .357, second only to Murphy at .364.
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireNelson Cruz hit a game-tying home run and a game-winning grand slam in Game 2 and gave the Rangers breathing room in the 11th in Game 4 with his three-run blast.
"Nellie's a strong man and he's got tons of power," Michael Young said. "We've seen him do it before and hopefully we'll see him do it again. When he gets going, he's able to go out and hit four, five, six in a week."
The Detroit Tigers might think about giving Cruz the Miguel Cabrera treatment.
"I've always had power. But to deliver, that's a whole different thing," Cruz said. "To have power and show, especially in important games, because the pitchers are tougher here, they usually don't miss location. To deliver in the playoffs is more hard."
Those stats are only half the story. Let these facts sink in:
* Cruz became the first player in postseason history to hit two extra-inning home runs in the same series.
* In fact, his two career extra-inning home runs match the most by any player in MLB history, joining Javy Lopez (1995 and '96), Bernie Williams (1996 and '99) and David Ortiz (2004 -- one in ALDS and one in ALCS)
* He has a franchise-high 10 career postseason home runs, all in the last two years.
* The four home runs in this ALCS matches a single LCS record done 10 times previously, including five times in the ALCS.
* The 10 postseason home runs is already tied for 22nd all-time in MLB history.
* Among players with at least 75 career postseason at-bats, Cruz's 8.90 (10 homers in 89 at-bats) at-bat per home run ratio is fourth-best all-time behind Carlos Beltran (7.45), Babe Ruth (8.60) and Troy Glaus (8.67).
Cruz said he's aware he's making history, although he hardly lets on.
"I just try to stay focused, you know? After the season when I'm home, I am going to relax and look back," Cruz said. "Now, I have no time to think about that. We have to play another game tomorrow."
And perhaps another mind-blowing record to break.