Hamilton, Cruz make immediate impact

Hamilton, Cruz make immediate impact

Hamilton, Cruz make immediate impact
ARLINGTON -- Before Monday's game against the White Sox, Rangers manager Ron Washington estimated that writing both Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton on the lineup card would add about "one or two more runs" a game.

Washington actually underestimated, as Cruz and Hamilton, both in their first game back from the disabled list, hit two home runs and drove in three runs in their first game back, a 4-0 Rangers victory at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"Cruz and Hamilton made their presence felt quick and early," Washington said afterward. "Hamilton in his first at-bat gets us on the board, and Cruz hits a two-run bomb. Their presence was felt."

Hamilton took little time in reacquainting himself with the Texas faithful, lining John Danks' 0-1 pitch 378 feet over the right-field fence. The homer also counted as Hamilton's first, having not circled the bases during his previous 11 games before injuring his shoulder.

Even though Hamilton homered twice on his five-game rehab assignment in Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, it felt good for him to do it on the Major League level.

"It was good to get it out of the way," Hamilton said. "Get the nervousness over. I got to calm it down a little bit after I got down in the dugout and sat down for a little bit."

The home run came after the crowd gave him a standing ovation to commemorate his return to the lineup.

"It was cool, man," Hamilton said of the ovation. "It's great to play in a town where people love to watch you play the game."

Hamilton, who went 2-for-4, also doubled in the eighth inning.

For the next few games, Washington said Hamilton would be the designated hitter until the team was comfortable with him playing in the field.

"I just like being in the lineup, period," Hamilton said. "If they want to DH me for a few, fine. It won't have any effect at all."

Not to be outdone, Cruz, who had been siidelined with a strained right quadriceps muscle, came to the plate in the sixth inning with a runner on first and two outs. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Cruz drove Danks' 91-mph fastball into the seats in left field.

"I just saw the pitch I was looking for in that situation and I was aggressive," said Cruz, who finished 1-for-4 and struck out twice.

There was little doubt coming off the bat that the ball was destined for the stands. Danks thought the pitch would tie up Cruz.

"I made what I thought was a very good pitch, especially early in the count to Cruz, and he's a good hitter," Danks said. "He hit it out of the ballpark."

The offensive addition came at just the right time for the Rangers. They had scored two runs or fewer in each of the previous four games, and had hit just one home run in the previous seven.

"That's what presence is," Washington said. "They make it tough to get through that lineup, and in that case, it helps wear down a pitcher."

Danks echoed the same sentiments.

"It changes that lineup, no doubt," he said. "No disrespect to the other guys that were in their last time [we faced them]. Those are two All-Stars, two of the best hitters in the game. It really changes [the lineup] drastically."

Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.