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Slugging Cruz returns to Texas to face Rangers

By The Sports Network   |   June 3, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Nelson Cruz returns to Arlington for the first time as a visitor on Tuesday night when the Baltimore Orioles take on the Texas Rangers in the opener of a three-game set at Globe Life Park.

Cruz, who turned down a $14 million qualifying offer from the Rangers this offseason only to end up signing a one-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore, currently leads the majors with 20 home runs and 52 RBI while posting a robust 1.055 OPS.

"If you could read the future, yeah, you would probably take the qualifying offer," Cruz said, laughing. "But it's something that you risk and you trust your instincts. In this case, it wasn't what I expected. But I'm happy with my decision and happy with where I am now."

However, Cruz's status is in question after being hit by a pitch in the left hand during Sunday's 9-4 win over Houston, an injury significant enough that he had to leave the game and forfeit his 12-game hitting streak. Monday's off day provided some extra recovery time.

"You just treat it like another game," Cruz said. "So see how it feels and just go from there."

Baltimore salvaged a four-game split at Houston over the weekend after losing the first two. The team is 3-4 on its 10-game road trip, which ends with this series.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are back home for nine straight after an 11-game road trip, their longest of the season.

"It feels like we have been on the road for a month, especially with all these day games," shortstop Elvis Andrus said of the trip, which included seven day games. "It has been tough, I'm happy we're going home."

The Rangers did end the trip on a positive note with Sunday's 2-0 victory over Washington. Staff ace Yu Darvish was in command for eight shutout innings as he notched a season-high 12 strikeouts. Leonys Martin broke a scoreless contest with a solo home run in the seventh inning, marking the team's first homer in seven games.

Toeing the rubber for Texas is former Oriole Joe Saunders, who is 1-7 with an 8.58 ERA in eight career starts at Globe Life Park and is winless in two starts this season. The left-hander was sent to the disabled list after getting hit in the left ankle and suffering a stress fracture during his first start of the season.

He returned to face the Minnesota Twins on May 28 and threw five scoreless frames, striking out six.

"My last start was OK," Saunders said. "It could have been better. I felt I was a little too fine than I needed to be, but it was still a good battle. I had a lot of traffic on the bases and was able to get out of it by making big pitches. It was a good second first start of the year."

For Baltimore, Ubaldo Jimenez gets the nod after taking a no-decision Thursday at Houston. In that outing, the right-hander struck out eight over six innings while allowing one earned run on three hits to go along with one walk.

This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams. Baltimore went 5-2 against the Rangers in 2013.

[SportsNetwork.com]

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