ST. PETERSBURG -- Embarking on a two-week, 12-game road trip, a team could use some extra energy. And nothing screams "energy boost" quite like a 482-foot jack, according to Statcast™, to polish off a victory.Nelson Cruz pulverized a Brad Boxberger offering into the upper deck of Tropicana Field during Friday's
ST. PETERSBURG -- Embarking on a two-week, 12-game road trip, a team could use some extra energy. And nothing screams "energy boost" quite like a 482-foot jack, according to Statcast™, to polish off a victory.
Nelson Cruz pulverized a Brad Boxberger offering into the upper deck of Tropicana Field during Friday's 7-1 win over the Rays, cranking a home run that tied for the third longest in the Majors this season, according to Statcast™. The shot had an exit velocity of 116 mph and is the longest tracked at Tropicana Field since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. It's the Mariners' third-longest homer in that time, with Cruz also accounting for the top two entries on that list.
"Do they give me a prize for that?" Cruz asked when informed of his new place atop the stadium's distance leaderboard.
For the Mariners, having Cruz in the lineup is the prize. The veteran slugger has 10 home runs since July 30, trailing only the scorching Giancarlo Stanton's 11 since then. Six of those round-trippers have come during the last nine games. With two doubles on Friday, Cruz added two RBIs and has an American League-leading total of 98.
"He's just seeing the ball really well right now, he's got a good rhythm at the plate," manager Scott Servais said. "Stayed on some breaking pitches for the doubles, and then he got the fastball down that he just hammered there.
"We certainly need him. It's great when he gets hot, because they're not just singles, they're doubles and homers."
A Cruz hot streak couldn't come at a better time. As the Mariners are fighting half the American League for a Wild Card playoff spot, they began their longest road trip in seven years Friday, with stops in St. Petersburg, Atlanta, the Bronx and Baltimore. Seattle is a half-game back for the second Wild Card spot.
Luckily for the Mariners, Cruz and teammate Robinson Cano have been at their best when on the road. The duo entered Friday's action tied atop the AL with 45 RBIs in road games (Cruz now sits alone with 47).
While Cruz sits in the top 10 in slugging percentage, OPS, and home runs for road games the whole season, he's been especially good away from Seattle lately. In his last nine away games, he's 16-for-37 (.432) with 10 runs, four doubles, six homers and 11 RBIs.
Cano and Cruz both scored in Seattle's three-run first inning, and plenty of other players contributed to Friday's win as well. Having those two makes a two-week East Coast swing more manageable, but Servais ideally would like all hands on deck.
"Everybody's chipping in," Servais said. "That's what it's going to take on this road trip."
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Mariners on Friday.