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Nelson Cruz in the starting lineup, batting sixth for Rangers in tiebreaker game

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

After the Texas Rangers kept their season alive with a win Sunday, we talked about the possibility of Nelson Cruz playing in Monday's tiebreaker game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Well, it's happening. The Rangers' starting lineup has Cruz batting sixth as the designated hitter.

Cruz was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball in August for PED use. He was one of the 17 players suspended in the last two years with ties to the Biogenesis clinic in the Miami area. Cruz's 50-game suspension ended with Sunday's supposedly final game of the regular season. But now, with Game 163 needed to break a tie for the second AL wild card, the Rangers have Cruz back. It's worth noting that the team won seven straight without Cruz to erase a woeful early September and slip back into the postseason picture.

On Sunday, Texas GM Jon Daniels said he'd activate Cruz, but it would be up to manager Ron Washington whether Cruz would play. Looking at the numbers, it's an easy decision for Washington. Cruz is 9-for-21 with three homers in this career against Rays starter David Price.

Now we wait and see what happens. If Cruz goes 0-for-4 and doesn't make much of a difference in the game, then nobody will probably worry too much about a guy who just served a suspension for PEDs playing in a do-or-die game. If Cruz drives in a few runs or hits a homer, you can bet some folks — Rays fans and baseball traditionalists, for example — will be crying foul.

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