The rookie should get another chance when the Rangers continue their three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on Tuesday.
Cruz, acquired along with Carlos Lee from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 28, has started in right field the last four games. On Monday, he went 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs as Texas beat Oakland 8-1 in the series opener.
The first shot was an inside-the-park home run, the first at McAfee Coliseum since May 9, 2003, and the first for Texas since Mike Lamb did it against Kansas City on Aug. 31, 2001. Cruz added a three-run homer in the sixth.
Cruz, who had been batting .125 (5-for-40) in limited time this season, has six hits in his last three games. His homer and RBI totals Monday were career highs, and he doubled his career home run total.
“This really means a lot,” said Cruz, who was nursing a swollen left ankle afterward. “They gave me the opportunity to play and now I can show I can play.”
Oakland (79-58) has lost two of its last three home games after winning 10 straight at McAfee. The Athletics, though, have a 6 1/2 -game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West and a nine-game advantage over the Rangers (71-68).
“What is it, Sept. 4?” losing pitcher Barry Zito asked. “I know I’m not going home thinking about the Angels, and I doubt if anyone else on this team is, either. We control our fate, so the focus is all about ‘we.”’
Zito was denied his 16th victory with a shaky outing. Oakland’s only run came on an RBI single from Frank Thomas in the seventh.
Thomas tied Fred McGriff for 36th on the all-time list with 1,550 RBIs.
Looking to win their third straight, the Rangers will turn to Adam Eaton (4-4, 4.71 ERA) on Tuesday. Eaton rebounded from two bad outings to win his last start Thursday, allowing two runs—one earned—and five hits in five innings of a 7-5 victory over Baltimore.
“It felt good,” Eaton said. “I just want to go out and be consistent.”
Before that, Eaton lost 5-3 to Oakland on Aug. 26, allowing four runs and six hits in three innings, and 4-3 to Tampa Bay on Aug. 21, giving up four runs and 11 hits in five innings.
Eaton has a 4.41 ERA in three starts against the Athletics. This will be his first start at McAfee Coliseum since June 5, 2000.
Kirk Saarloos (7-6, 4.47) looks for his fifth straight victory for Oakland on Tuesday.
Saarloos beat the Rangers on Aug. 8, allowing three hits in four scoreless innings of relief to begin the winning streak.
He’s started his last three games, beating Seattle, Kansas City and Boston. Saarloos allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings to beat the Red Sox 2-1 last Tuesday, and has given up only five runs in his last three outings.
Saarloos is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in three games against Texas this season, but 3-3 with a 7.30 ERA in 13 career games—seven starts.
In those starts against the Rangers, Saarloos is 2-3 with an 8.51 ERA.