Monday 23rd October, 2017
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Mariners' Nelson Cruz hits homer vs. Angels

MLB.com - Saturday 12th August, 2017

SEATTLE -- The Mariners have stumbled in their lone August homestead so far, but Nelson Cruz hasn't cooled off one bit.

The Mariners' slugger matched his career high for extra base hits in a game, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two doubles on Friday in the Mariners' 6-5 loss to the Angels at Safeco Field. He added two RBIs to push his total to 92, the highest in the American League -- Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop is the closest with 84.

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"Obviously, Cruz is swinging the bat great," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He continues to carry us there."

Cruz has slugged four homers in his last four games, six in his last six and eight in his last 11. He's tied with Texas' Joey Gallo for the most homers in August with seven and he's hitting .432 with an OPS of 1.556 for the month.

No matter how you frame it, Cruz's recent stretch is impressive.

Not only is he scorching hot at the plate, he's getting healthier on the basepaths. He hustled to second on his two doubles and even tagged up from second to third on a fly ball to center field.

"It's nice to feel like I can run," Cruz said. "Get the extra base, tag and all that. Score. It feels good."

"He was busting it on the bases," Servais added.

Cruz came into August as one of baseball's hottest hitters, posting a 273 WRC in 36 plate appearances entering Friday's game, the fifth highest in baseball during that stretch.

His sterling performances have gone for naught lately. Edwin Diaz surrendered a three-run double to Mike Trout in the ninth inning on Thursday in a 6-3 loss and the Mariners' bullpen relinquished five unanswered runs in a 6-5 loss on Friday.

There's a strong argument to be made the Mariners wouldn't even be in situations to win without Cruz's offensive contributions.

"He's swinging the bat great," Servais said. "He fouled a ball off his foot, pretty sore, and hung in there with a great at-bat, getting a big hit. He can really carry you when he's swinging the bat well, and that's what he's doing right."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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