Cruz ably filling void left by Hamilton

Cruz ably filling void left by Hamilton

BOSTON -- Nelson Cruz isn't in the business of impersonations. And while he currently occupies the cleanup spot in the Rangers' lineup during the absence of Josh Hamilton, Cruz has no plans to single-handedly replace the production of his injured teammate.

Instead, the right fielder has become the centerpiece of a Texas offense that still packs plenty of punch without last year's American League RBI champion and Home Run Derby hero. Cruz, who finished a single shy of the cycle in Sunday's win over Boston, is coming into his own two years after setting career highs in home runs (nine) and RBIs (34).

Fifty-five games into 2009, the 28-year-old slugger has far exceeded those figures, and his power numbers (17 homers, 42 RBIs) should only continue to grow while Hamilton works his way back from a groin injury.

In the meantime, Cruz is just one piece of an intermediate lineup that also includes All-Star infielders Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.

"[Cruz] is picking up whatever load the team needs," said Texas manager Ron Washington, whose club kicks off a four-game series against Toronto on Monday at Rangers Ballpark. "Everybody's picking up Hamilton's load. That load is being distributed throughout the whole lineup. That's why you call it a team.

"No one guy can sit up there and replace what we missed in Hamilton. Everybody has to be a part of it, and that's what they're doing."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Scott Feldman (5-0, 3.79 ERA)
Feldman's last outing wasn't particularly pretty, but it was effective. Despite allowing five hits and three walks, he yielded just two runs in 6 1/3 innings and earned a win against the Yankees on Wednesday. He surrendered three hits and three walks through three innings, but settled down and shut down one of the baseball's best offenses in Yankee Stadium -- a ballpark known for being a hitters' paradise.

TOR: RHP Casey Janssen (1-2, 5.82 ERA)
Janssen recorded his shortest outing of the season Tuesday, logging only four innings in a loss to the Angels at Rogers Centre. He was charged with five runs (all earned) on seven hits, including a two-run home run to the Angels' Bobby Abreu with no one out in the top of the first inning. On a positive note, Janssen issued only one walk and has yet to walk more than two batters in a game this season. He struck out two, which tied a season high set in his previous start, after recording no strikeouts in his season debut.

Tidbits
Sunday marked the Rangers' first series victory at Fenway Park since Aug. 11-13, 1997. ... With Sunday's 2-for-4 effort, shortstop Omar Vizquel now has 2,676 career hits. His next knock will tie Luis Aparicio (2,677) for the most all-time by a native of Venezuela. ... Third baseman Michael Young is hitting .412 (14-for-34) over his past eight games, with four doubles, a home run, three RBIs and five runs scored.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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On radio
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Up next
• Tuesday: Rangers (Brandon McCarthy, 5-2, 4.92) vs. Blue Jays (Brian Tallet, 3-3, 4.54), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 5-4, 2.96) vs. Blue Jays (Ricky Romero, 3-2, 4.10), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Rangers (Derek Holland, 1-3, 6.54) vs. Blue Jays (TBD), 7:05 p.m. CT

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