HOUSTON -- Outfielder Nelson Cruz and second baseman Ian Kinsler were out of the starting lineup on Sunday. That was a first for Cruz this season as he had started all 36 games before Sunday, although one of them was at designated hitter.
The day off comes after Cruz had hit game-tying home runs in the sixth inning on both Friday and Saturday night. But he also has just seven hits in his last 44 at-bats to drop his batting average to a season-low .269.
"I had planned on giving two guys off, and Cruz was always going to be one of them," manager Ron Washington said. "I had planned on this being a day off for him at the beginning of the road trip."
Kinsler was 1-for-5 on Saturday, but is also hitting .366 in his last 16 games. That's raised his batting average to .322, 13th highest in the league entering Sunday. He is also tied for the fifth most hits.
This is only the second time Kinsler has been out of the lineup, and Leury Garcia got the start at second base. With Cruz out, Craig Gentry was in the lineup with a right-hander on the mound. Gentry was in center, with Leonys Martin -- his usual platoon partner -- getting his first start in right field.
"Gentry is my better center fielder, so I'm leaving him in center," Washington said.
Gentry also batted in the sixth spot for the first time in his career. Garcia was batting in the second spot behind leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus.
"I can use him up there to do a lot of things in that spot, like bunt and hit-and-run," Washington said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less