In spite of his struggles at the plate over the first month-plus of his 1-year/$15M deal with Washington’s Nationals, veteran DH Nelson Cruz had reached base in 18 of 24 games he’d played in going into the second of three with the LA Angels in Anaheim on Saturday night.
Cruz was 3 for 25 (.120/.148/.240) on the Nationals’ road trip, with a home run, a walk, and six Ks in the six games he played, missing time with lower back stiffness, but he returned with a 1 for 3 game in the series opener in Angel Stadium, and though he K’d swinging in four of five plate appearances in Saturday’s 7-3 win, he did connect for his second homer on the trip in the third trip to the plate, sending a line drive out at 105.9 MPH off the bat.
Cruz’s home run, one of three the Nationals hit in the win, was a screaming liner to left field that traveled 380 feet, and put the visitors up 6-3, half an inning after the Angels rallied and made it a one-run game.
Cruz, the 41-year-old, 18-year veteran, told reporters after the game that he’s just stuck with his process as he’s struggled, trusting what got him to where he is in his career, and he got hold of another one, connecting for his third home run of 2022 and the 452nd of his career.
“Just stayed with my approach,” Cruz said, as quoted on MLB.com.
“Believe in the work I put in every day. ... The pitch was the right one, and I guess I put the right swing on it.”
Cruz’s manager, Davey Martinez, said after the Nationals evened things up with the Angels in the three-game set in Anaheim, the veteran slugger has started slowly, obviously, but he still has something left.
“He’s had a tremendous career and it’s not over,” Martinez said. “He’s gonna hit a lot more.
“I’m sure of that. I love having him around here, whether he’s hitting or not; what he does for our clubhouse is really amazing and guys love him.”
Cruz is back in there for the finale of the three-game series with the Angels, looking for No. 453.