Nelson Cruz was a late off-season pickup for the Baltimore Orioles. There was much speculation on whether Cruz would be able to manufacture those power numbers he was so accustomed to all his career after his name appeared on the Biogenesis report along with several other Major League ball players. The reason why I am talking about him is the fact that he may be quite possibly the best free agent pickup in all of baseball this year.
Currently batting .297 with an on-base percentage of .377, Cruz has proven to be a reliable batter that Showalter knows can get on base when the Orioles need a base runner. However, that is not what Orioles fans think of when they see Cruz walk up and step into the batter’s box. They think power.
Going into tonight’s game against the Twins, Cruz was leading the team with seven home runs. He added another round tripper to that list in the top of the sixth inning. With a 1-1 count, Cruz took a big cut into an 87 mph sinker ball that was just “hanging” over the top of the plate like a Christmas ornament on a pine tree.
However, this was no ordinary home run. Immediately when Cruz connected with the ball, MASN sportscaster, Jim Hunter, exclaimed, “That’s gone.” To say it was gone was an understatement as the ball carried and continued to carry over top the field level seats in left field; over top the second deck in left field; and eventually “dinged” off the second row of seats in the upper deck of Target Field. The ironic thing is the ball landed just over top of a sign that read “US Bank Home Run Porch.” Cruz’s power is unmatched by any player in the American League East and arguably in the entire American League in general.
Even sweeter was the fact that it was a two run blast that increased the Orioles’ lead to 3-0 thanks to a Manny Machado single the at-bat prior to Cruz’s eighth home run of the year.
Just some interesting statistics about Cruz’s “long ball”:
- He has hit seven of his eight home runs when the pitcher he was facing was right-handed
- Two of his home runs came on the first pitch of his at-bat
- Five of his eight home runs were with runners on base
- When he hit second in the batting order, he connected for five home runs
In the Orioles three-game win streak they are currently on, Cruz has hit .333 with two RBIs and had two multi-hit ball games. The Baltimore Orioles are rolling with Machado added back in the lineup and the the ball club is “Cruz-ing” with Cruz hitting consistently and with power.