Nelson Cruz has been catalyst for Rangers

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Nelson Cruz is again swinging his big boomstick in October for the Texas Rangers, who are one win from their second consecutive trip to the World Series.

Texas slugger Nelson Cruz hits a two-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 5 on Thursday. He has five homers and 11 RBI in the ALCS, which the Rangers lead 3-2.  MARK DUNCAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MARK DUNCAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Texas slugger Nelson Cruz hits a two-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 5 on Thursday. He has five homers and 11 RBI in the ALCS, which the Rangers lead 3-2.

Only 3½ years ago, Cruz was waived at the end of spring training but went unclaimed and was sent to the minors. It’s been quite a turnaround.

“That period of time in Nelson’s life, he hadn’t arrived yet. You know, we all got to experience things before we finally make our way to where we want to be,” manager Ron Washington said Friday. “That certainly probably has done a great deal for Nelson to experience that and realize once he got here that he certainly has to figure out how to make the adjustments. And he’s done that.”

Cruz is living up to his boomstick moniker that became common after an MLB 2K10 video game promotion last year, a season after he was the Home Run Derby runner-up. He already has an LCS-record five home runs heading into tonight, when the Rangers host Detroit with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Cruz won Game 2 with the first game-ending grand slam in postseason history. Cruz hit another 11th-inning drive in Detroit in Game 4, a three-run shot.

“When he gets going he’s as good as any power hitter in the game,” Michael Young said. “He’s got that knack for big RBIs, and you definitely need those guys on your team.”

Against the Tigers, Cruz tied Game 2 when he led off the seventh with a solo homer that chased Max Scherzer.

Cruz also chased Justin Verlander in Game 5 when he pulled a 100-mph 0-2 fastball off the left-field pole.Cruz is 6 for 18 in the series, with five homers and 11 RBI.

TODAY’S GAME

WHO: Detroit at Texas

TIME/TV: 8:05 p.m./Fox-Ch. 54


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