ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz hit a single in the eighth inning on Friday night, tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out by Angels right fielder Torii Hunter after a hard slide. Cruz did not get up right away and the Rangers were concerned that he had pulled a hamstring muscle.
"That's the reaction everybody gets every time something hurts," Cruz said. "It was nothing ... just part of the game."
What happened was shortstop Erick Aybar kneed Cruz in the side, knocking the wind out of him. Cruz stayed in the game and was back in the lineup on Saturday afternoon. Cruz went into Saturday having played in 154 games, the most on the Rangers and the most in his career.
He was on the disabled list six times in the past three seasons for a variety of leg injuries, but he avoided that this season. The legs do give him problems on occasion, but so far they have not kept him out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
"That was my goal before the season," Cruz said. "Thank God I have been able to play that many games."
The Rangers have wondered the past few years what kind of numbers Cruz could put up if he stayed healthy the whole season. His numbers this season have been solid but not overwhelming.
He ended Friday hitting .263 with 23 home runs and 88 RBIs. He leads the Rangers with 43 doubles and his RBI totals are a career high. But his .460 slugging percentage is a career low for a full season. He had a combined .534 slugging percentage over 2009-2011.
"It's been up and down the whole season," said Cruz, who was 5-for-6 in his last two games going into Saturday. His home run on Friday was his first in 22 games.
"It's definitely good to feel strong right now with five games left," Cruz said. "Hopefully I can keep it going like this into the playoffs."