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It's official. Lucifer is loose in Arlington. It appears Mike Shanahan has inhabited Ron Washington's body.  

As noted by the Piano Man in last night's Closing Time, the Noise's mantasy, Nelson Cruz(notes), rode the pine for the third consecutive night. Though he suffered a mild back strain earlier this month, which cost him one game, the injury wasn't the issue. Instead, Ron Washington sidelined his burgeoning slugger not for disciplinary reasons or extra rest. Nope the skipper sat his top hitter because of his steadfast belief in the hot-hand effect. The unexpected demotion has made Cruz a not-so-happy camper. Per the Dallas Morning News:

Andruw Jones(notes) started for the fourth consecutive game Thursday. Jones, who homered in his first three at-bats Wednesday, is too hot to take out of the lineup.

"Three bombs [Wednesday] night? I can't pull him," Washington said. "It's not that vicious, where I'm sitting Nelson Cruz. It's just that those guys out there did such a great job, how can you pull them off the field?"

Cruz said he will continue working in batting practice and in the outfield before games to stay sharp. But the last three days haven't been easy.

"It's not good," Cruz said. "I'm here to play."

Washington's justification for benching Cruz is reasonable, but for those of us who constantly daydream about sipping an ice-cold Boddingtons on a sweltering August afternoon, the move is very infuriating.

Somewhere in Kansas City, Jeff Passan is stabbing his Brad Evans voodoo doll while sporting a devilish grin... 

Cruz is notoriously streaky. Because of his appalling contact rate (69.3 CT%) and equally unattractive K:BB split (67:27), fruitless episodes are bound to reoccur. However, his prodigious pop and quality numbers against righties (210 at-bats, .271 BA, 16 HR, 40 RBI) suggest he should never be benched, especially when healthy. The 29-year-old has accumulated All-Star caliber numbers over the first-half. In fact, he's on pace for a 40-100-90-20 season. Over the past ten years, only Alex Rodriguez(notes) (1999, 2005, 2007), Alfonso Soriano(notes) (2006) and Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) (1999) have reached or surpassed that statistical milestone. Based on the routine appearances "The Kid" has made at cleanup this season, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu still believes the 39-year-old is partying like it's 1999.

After the Rangers offense tallied a measly one run against Felix Hernandez(notes) last night, the Caribbean Cruz should again set sail tonight against righty Brandon Morrow(notes). If not, you can count on him suiting up Saturday and Sunday against southpaws Erik Bedard(notes) and Jarrod Washburn(notes). Whenever he reappears, you can certainly bet he'll emerge from the dugout with a determined look.

Still, if this becomes a trend, the Noise may need to consult Senor Cuervo often.

Fellow Cruz supporters, vent your frustration in the comments section below.

Update: If Washington sits an All-Star four days straight, Nolan Ryan needs to step in and stop the madness. Cruz will replace abductor-strained nominee Torii Hunter(notes) on the AL team.

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Image courtesy of US Presswire

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