AL West-leading Texas looks to continue its hot hitting when it continues its three-game home series against the slumping Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
Cruz hasn’t played since straining his left hamstring suffered Aug. 28, despite the fact he was activated from the DL prior to Tuesday’s 10-4 series-opening win. Washington said Cruz will be limited to pinch-hitting duty at first, then be inserted into the designated hitter spot.
Murphy has been stellar in his absence, making his case to be a regular in the lineup even when Cruz is fully healthy.
He hit two solo homers and finished with four hits Tuesday, and is batting .424 with six homers and 20 RBIs over his last 16 games.
“When Nelson comes back, it’s not going to affect the way David is playing,” Washington said. “He’s going to continue to play if he continues to swing the bat the way he’s swinging. How am I going to pull him out of the lineup?”
Beltre has been swinging a hot bat of his own. He homered for the third straight game Tuesday, also tying a career best with a 17-game hitting streak. His current streak dates back to July 16, as Beltre missed 37 games July 23-Aug. 31 with a left hamstring strain.
The veteran third baseman is batting .383 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 11 games since coming off the DL.
“This is one of the best lineups in the league, right up there with the one in New York and the one in Boston. Nellie Cruz wasn’t even in the lineup,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “They’re so deep one through nine.”
Cleveland (72-73) has dropped six of eight and has fallen 12 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit.
Carlos Santana(notes) was a bright spot Tuesday, becoming the first Indians player to homer from both sides of the plate since Victor Martinez(notes) on June 1, 2007. He’s 3 for 6 with a double and a homer lifetime off Derek Holland(notes) (13-5, 4.12 ERA), who will take the mound for the Rangers on Wednesday.
Holland is 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last nine starts, limiting the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in seven of them. He allowed four runs - three earned - in 6 2-3 innings of Texas’ 5-4, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay last Wednesday.
Cleveland, though, got to Holland early Aug. 5, scoring six runs - including Santana’s three-run homer - and forcing him from the game after only 1 2-3 innings. His previous outing against the Indians on June 4 went much better when he threw a five-hit shutout - his first of four this season.
Huff allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-1 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, falling to 1-3 with a 5.23 ERA in his last four starts.
The left-hander pitched a gem in his only career start against the Rangers on April 15, 2010, allowing four hits while throwing a complete game in a 3-2 victory.