The Grand Slam: Nelson Cruz hits 20th home run as O's snap Astros win streak


All good things must come to an end eventually. That includes the Houston Astros surprising seven-game winning streak. On Saturday, they finally fell to the Nelson Cruz led Baltimore Orioles, 4-1 at Minute Maid Park.  

Cruz connected for his major league-leading 20th home run - a solo shot in the eighth inning - but also contributed two key at-bats earlier in the game. His first inning sacrifice fly started the scoring. In the fifth inning, he drew a bases loaded walk off Dallas Keuchel, which pushed the lead to 3-1. Cruz is now up to 52 RBIs on the season. If you're into projections, that puts him on pace for 60 home runs, 156 RBIs and a whole lot of money as a free agent this winter.

''Nelson is letting the ball travel and letting it get deep,'' Showalter said. ''He's come in with a reputation of being streaky and I don't think I've ever seen him locked in for this long a period of time. A lot of guys at his age start figuring out who they are and learning from their mistakes through the years in more ways than one.''

Cruz's offense came in support of Chris Tillman, who improved to 5-2 with six and two-thirds innings of one run ball. A much needed good start for him after allowing 14 runs combined in his previous two starts.

TANAKA DOMINANT AGAIN: With each start, New York Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka seems to move himself into a new elite class. On Saturday, he added another accolade by notching his eighth victory before the end of the May. According to Elias, in doing so, Tanaka became only the fourth rookie to reach eight wins before June since 1958. The others were Jerry Koosman (1968), Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Kazuhisa Ishii (2002).

Tanaka earned the win with eight innings of one run ball. The only run, by the way, was unearned, which lowered Tanaka's AL best ERA to 2.06. Tanaka limited the Minnesota Twins to four hits while striking out nine, and New York's offense mustered just enough to secure a 3-1 victory

Let there be no debate: Masahiro Tanaka is the New York Yankees ace now, and he still will when C.C. Sabathia returns in July. 

''No, I don't feel that I'm the ace,'' Tanaka said Saturday through a translator.

Ignore him or applaud his modesty, because he's definitely the ace, and Yankees fans are thankful for his presence. 


LET'S PLAY 14 — AGAIN!: Either the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies really enjoy competing against each other, or finding ways to win baseball games is a struggle for both sides. For the second straight game, they needed 14 innings to decide a winner on Saturday. The New York Mets eventually emerged 5-4 thanks to David Wright's RBI single this time around. On Friday, the Philadelphia Philles walked off victorious on Reid Brignac's RBI single.  

On Saturday, extra innings didn't seem necessary as late as the seventh inning. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was rolling along with 11 strikeouts and only two baserunners allowed up to that point. However, Philadelphia finally put some pressure on with the top of their order, and then Ryan Howard made it a game again with a three-run homer. He also achieved a milestone on the swing as he reached 1,000 career RBI.

Congratulations to Howard.

After Philadelphia pulled even in the ninth on Dominic Brown's RBI single, the bullpens had things locked down until the Mets finally broke through against Antonio Bastardo. That made a winner out of 36-year-old reliever Buddy Carlyle, who won an MLB game for the first time since 2008.

SPOT START DISASTER: Aaron Brooks first career start was notable for all of the wrong reasons on Saturday. With Yordano Ventura unavailable, the Kansas City Royals elected to give Brooks the spot start against one of the hottest teams in MLB in the Toronto Blue Jays. It went horribly. Brooks allowed the first eight batters to reach safely - four hits, three walks, one hit batter - and ended up allowing seven earned over two-thirds of an inning. His only saving grace was a 1-2-3 double play from Anthony Gose, but by then the outing was out of hand and Toronto was on their way to a 12-2 win.

Also of note in this game, Edwin Encarnacion was held homerless. He ended up tied with Mickey Mantle for the AL record for May home runs with 16 and one behind Barry Bonds for the overall record.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

- - - - - - -

Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next