ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn't Game 2 of the ALCS, but Nelson Cruz's grand slam in the third inning Sunday did ignite a sellout crowd of 46,669 and served as further proof that he is hitting his way out of an early-season funk.
Cruz mashed the homer 344 feet to left field, just going over the wall and inside the foul pole to turn a 2-2 game into a 6-2 Rangers lead. Adrian Beltre, on third base when Cruz hit the blast, jumped up and down as the dugout erupted. The homer was only the start for a Rangers offense that pounded out 19 hits and 13 runs in the 13-6 victory, taking two of three from the Los Angeles Angels.
"He certainly was very productive tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
It was Cruz's third grand slam of his career in the regular season. And of course he had a big one in extra innings in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series in 2011 vs. Detroit, becoming the first player in big league history to hit a postseason walk-off grand slam.
But Cruz had actually been building toward Sunday's four-hit night. He was batting .283 in his last 13 games after starting the season so poorly. And despite hitting just .228 (11-for-48) off Jered Weaver, Cruz used all parts of the field and felt good.
"I said before that I felt like my swing was there, just not the results," Cruz said. "I thought it would come. It's good to see it."
Cruz wasn't the only hitter that performed well Sunday. Elvis Andrus was 4-for-5 and is hitting .328 this season. Mike Napoli, who has been scuffling the past few weeks, was 3-for-4. In fact, every starter in the lineup got on base and only one didn't have a hit was David Murphy.
But Murphy had one of the biggest at-bats of the game. He was down 0-2 in the count and worked it back to 3-2 before walking to load the bases for Cruz in the third. Cruz followed with the grand slam.
"It's a fun lineup to be a part of," Josh Hamilton said. "Every night somebody steps up. Either all of us, or bottom of the lineup or top of the lineup. It flip-flops or varies, which is a good thing to be able to say as a team. It's just fun to be a part of."