Nelson Cruz Wins ALCS MVP After Hitting Record Six Home Runs in Series

Nelson Cruz won ALCS MVP after bashing six home runs and driving in 13 runs against the Tigers. Both marks were a record for a single postseason series. He accomplished another record by hitting extra innings home runs twice during the series.

Cruz’s numbers were staggering. He went 8-22 (.364) with a .440 OBP and 1.713 OPS. Of his eight hits, six were home runs and two were doubles. Yes, you read that correctly — Nelson Cruz did not hit a single the entire series.

Let’s recap his historic ALCS against the Tigers:

Game 1: 1-3, solo HR off Verlander in 3-0 win, 1 run, 1 RBI
Game 2: 3-4, 2B, HBP, solo HR off Scherzer to tie game in 7th, walk-off grand slam off Perry in 11th to win 7-3, 2 runs, 5 RBIs
Game 3: 0-3 in 5-0 loss
Game 4: 1-4, BB, 3-run HR off Valverde in 11th, 1 run, 3 RBIs in 7-3 win.
Game 5: 1-2, 2-run HR off Verlander in 7-5 loss, one run, 2 RBIs
Game 6: 2-4, HR, 2B, BB, 2 runs, 2 RBIs in 15-5 win

I’m guessing Detroit pitchers will be seeing him in their sleep the next several weeks. The only question for Texas is if he can repeat the success in the World Series. Even if he doesn’t, the Ranges have so many bats they should be in fine shape.

Nelson Cruz on His Way to ALCS MVP

Is any player enjoying more of a breakout in the MLB playoffs than Nelson Cruz? Delmon Young had an excellent ALDS for the Tigers, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have been destroying the ball for the Brewers, and Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando have been studs in the Texas bullpen, but no player is having a bigger impact in the LCS than Nelson Cruz.

The Rangers right fielder made two key plays to help Texas beat Detroit 7-3 in 11 innings Wednesday night. With one out in the eighth inning, he caught a Delmon Young fly ball deep in right field and threw home to nail Miguel Cabrera who was tagging from third. We joked about how slowly Cabrera was running, but the fact is Cruz’s throw was so strong, and so accurate, that it would have gotten out almost any base runner.

Then in the 11th inning, after Mike Napoli singled in the tie-breaking run, Cruz slammed a 3-run home run to left field to make it 7-3. The home run made him the first player in MLB history to have a pair of extra innings home runs in the same playoff series.

Cruz hit a solo home run in Texas’ 3-2 win in Game 1, he hit a walk-off grand slam in Game 2, and a 3-run home run in Game 4. He now has four home runs and nine RBIs in the ALCS, and a whopping 1.685 OPS. Few players have dominated an ALCS so thoroughly. The MVP is likely his if the Rangers can win another one of their next three games.

Nelson Cruz Hits First Walk-Off Grand Slam in MLB Playoff History

When Nelson Cruz hit a walk-off grand slam to beat the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS Monday, a friend said to me “there can’t be too many of those in history.” He was right. Cruz’s walk-off grand salami was the first in MLB playoff history (or technically the second).

The 31-year-old right fielder hit two huge home runs for Texas. He popped one out in the 7th to tie the game at three, and then he unloaded on a hanging Ryan Perry breaking ball in the 11th to win the game. Perry completely missed his spot on the pitch, intending to paint the outside corner, but instead leaving it over the middle of the plate. From there, the only question was whether the ball would stay fair, not whether it would get out.

The home runs gave Cruz three in the postseason, which is welcomed with relief from Texas; he was only 2-for-18 in the playoffs entering the game.

It’s really no surprise to see him crushing balls in the postseason. Cruz’s slugging percentage has been over .500 the past three seasons, and he hit 29 in 124 games this year. Not bad for a guy who was an afterthought in the 2006 Carlos Lee-Francisco Cordero trade, huh?

As far as other walk-off grand slams are considered, Robin Ventura had one in the 1999 NLCS against the Braves. It was officially termed a walk-off single because he was mobbed by his teammates and never made it past first base. No matter how you look at it, it’s exclusive company for Cruz.

Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Umpires Get Call Right at Plate on CC Sabathia Tag Out of Nelson Cruz

As much as we rip on umpires for getting calls wrong (and insist upon instant replay), they actually do a good job. When you consider how fast the game is played and how difficult it is to get in the right positions to make calls, they get it right more often than not. The problem is when they get things wrong, we know about it because we have HD cameras and instant replay from every angle, making missed calls inexcusable. Well, because we’ve pointed out all the mistakes the umpires have made in the playoffs, I’d like to point out a call they got right.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, CC Sabathia launched a pitched over Jorge Posada’s glove. Nelson Cruz, the runner at third, decided to bolt him to try and score on the wild pitch. Posada got a great bounce off the brick wall, relayed to Sabathia who tagged Cruz out. Cruz appeared to beat the throw (and he did), but replays showed Sabathia tagged him out high before Cruz’s foot touched the plate (as you can see in the picture above).

The play didn’t seem to matter for most of the game because Texas had a three-run home run from Josh Hamilton earlier in the inning and got a two-run double from Michael Young in the 4th to lead 5-0. Once the Yankees took the lead scoring five runs in the 8th, they sure could have used that run. Good call by the umps on the play.