Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Cruz dumbfounded by homerless stretch

Mariners slugger hasn't hit a long ball since June 4
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz isn't used to not hitting home runs. Nobody in the Majors hit more long balls than Cruz's 127 from 2014-16, when he was the only player to hit 40-plus long balls each season.

Cruz got off to another strong start in that department this year, but the 36-year-old has been stuck on 14 home runs since June 4, a stretch of 21 games and 82 at-bats without a blast following Friday's 10-0 win over the Angels.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz isn't used to not hitting home runs. Nobody in the Majors hit more long balls than Cruz's 127 from 2014-16, when he was the only player to hit 40-plus long balls each season.

Cruz got off to another strong start in that department this year, but the 36-year-old has been stuck on 14 home runs since June 4, a stretch of 21 games and 82 at-bats without a blast following Friday's 10-0 win over the Angels.

View Full Game Coverage

Every other Mariner position player -- including backup catcher Carlos Ruiz and speedy center fielder Jarrod Dyson -- has hit a home run since Cruz last went deep against the Rays' Erasmo Ramirez.

It's not that Cruz hasn't been productive -- he's still batting .286 and was second in the American League in RBIs with 59 going into Friday -- but he definitely has gone on a homer hiatus.

And, yes, the big man has noticed.

"I think my job is to drive in runs," Cruz said. "If I don't hit homers and I'm driving in runs, I'm happy with that. But at the same time, it feels like I can only drive in runs when that runner is on. So you want to hit homers so you can contribute even when there are no runners on.

"I have no reason why. It's just part of the game. I don't remember the last time I was in this situation, but I keep doing my routines and I trust what I do. Sooner or later, they're going to come."

Cruz has dealt with calf and wrist injuries without going on the disabled list and acknowledged that "a few weeks ago I felt off and wasn't as strong as normal. But the last week and a half, I've felt pretty good."

Cruz's slash line over his last 20 games shows a dramatic dip, as he's batted .257/.349/.338 with 14 RBIs in that stretch, dropping his season line to .286/.371/.502. But manager Scott Servais says it's only a matter of time for his clean-up hitter to heat up.

"All the big sluggers, they come in bunches," Servais said. "He could go out and hit five or six in a week. It does typically happen that way with those type of guys. His at-bats, he's been maybe chasing some pitches that he typically doesn't and needs to work himself into better hitting counts.

"There haven't been a lot of 2-0, 3-1 counts and those are where you put the pitcher on edge where he has to be so fine because it is Nelson Cruz. He hasn't been in a lot of those counts, so hopefully that turns in his favor."

Cruz is a tireless worker and student of the game, so he'll push ahead and figures the ball will go over the wall in due time.

"I've hit the ball hard," he said. "I don't know what the reason is. I have to hit it hard and elevate it, that's the difference."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Nelson Cruz