June 4, 2014

Game 56: Cruz Crushes 21st Homer, Rangers' Fans Hearts

2014-06-03 Nelson Cruz1
Cruzin': Nelson homers again in his return to Texas.
On Sunday we saw the Orioles clicking on all cylinders and yesterday we experienced a delightful case of deja vu.  Baltimore exploded for 8 runs on 17 hits in Texas with each starter contributing with at least abase hit.  The first three innings were relatively quiet as both starters tossed three scoreless frames. Baltimore were unable to push across a run despite 5 early hits off Joe Saunders.  Adam Jones led off the 4th inning with a solo homer down the right field line to break a scoreless tie.  Jones, 4-5 on the night was the catalyst for the Birds offense last night as he added three more singles and scored twice.

Adrian Beltre quickly responded with a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. This was the only real blemish for Ubaldo Jimenez as he continued his success on the road in 2014 with 5.2 innings of 1-run ball.  He scattered four hits while striking out 5, showcasing an excellent command of the strike zone once again.  Saunders was hit relatively hard, allowing 2 runs on 10 hits through 6 innings but kept Texas in the game by limiting hits with RISP.  Delmon Young broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the 6th with a single to left plating Jones and Brian Matusz ended a potential Texas rally in bottom of the 6th.  However, Matusz would give up a solo shot to Robinson Chirinos next inning to keep Jimenez out of a potential decision.

Jason Frasor relieved Saunders in the top of the 7th with no outs and runners on, only to squander to Orioles chance to pad their lead.  Baltimore came up next inning to atone for the previous runners left on base and buried the Rangers' chances of a come from behind win with 6 runs on 6 hits in the inning.  Caleb Joseph, coming in to Tuesday's game with only 3 hits this season, gave the Orioles the lead with a deep double into the right-centerfield gap that plated Adam Jones.  From that point on, the floodgates were open as the inning was capped off by Nelson Cruz (no surprise here) and his monster 3-run shot to silence the crowd (Earl Weaver approves) and give the Birds an 8-2 lead.  Cruz, greeted with cheers and jeers throughout the game in his return to Texas, deposited Neal Cotts' offering into the left field bleachers for his ML-leading 21st homer and cleared out Globe Life Park as the O's would go on to win the series opener 8-3.  Baltimore received production from the entire lineup, especially the bottom tier as Young, Joseph & Schoop each tallied two hits.  Nick Markakis kept his hit streak alive with a 3-for-6 night, raising his streak to 8 games and batting average to .304.

As the Yankees would squander a late lead to the A's, Baltimore now moves back into a tie for second place.  Toronto maintained their division lead with a blown save from Joe Nathan in the 9th as Tampa and Boston were defeated on a pair of complete games.  O's take the field at 8:05 tonight as Bud Norris squares off against Nick Martinez.  Baltimore hopes to ride the wave of their current power surge and pick up a much needed series win heading into a tough weekend tilt with the Oakland A's (which I'll be in attendance for).

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