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Fore! Cruz clubs homer in 4th straight game

Seattle slugger on season-ending tear to reach 40 big flies for 4th straight season
MLB.com

SEATTLE -- On Tuesday, Nelson Cruz was sitting on 33 homers, with only two in his previous 26 games, and he was in considerable jeopardy of not reaching 40-plus big flies for the first time since 2013.

After his fourth homer in four games, the 37-year-old slugger is making a late-season push to reach 40.

Full Game Coverage

SEATTLE -- On Tuesday, Nelson Cruz was sitting on 33 homers, with only two in his previous 26 games, and he was in considerable jeopardy of not reaching 40-plus big flies for the first time since 2013.

After his fourth homer in four games, the 37-year-old slugger is making a late-season push to reach 40.

Full Game Coverage

Cruz walloped a 401-foot homer to left-center field in the eighth inning of the Mariners' 11-4 loss to the Indians on Saturday, his 37th of the season.

"When Nellie gets locked in, he is fun to watch," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He was seeing the ball really good. He's on time. He's using a big part of the field to hit. He's got super talent and big power."

Home runs or not, Cruz is on a tear lately. He's hitting .351 in his past 15 games with six home runs and 11 RBIs. He tallied his 115th RBI on Saturday, extending his career high; it was 108 set in 2014. He leads the American League in RBIs -- the next is Justin Upton at 106 -- and he can become the first Mariner to lead the AL in RBIs since Bret Boone drove in 141 in '01.

Video: CLE@SEA: Servais on sloppy play in loss to Indians

Indians manager Terry Francona has the utmost respect for Cruz and what he's done.

"He's been one of the best, productive bats in the league for a while now, and it doesn't seem to be going with age," Francona said. "He seems to be every bit as good as he ever was."

There's a lot of truth to Francona's statement. Since MLB Statcast™ was introduced in 2015, Nelson Cruz leads all hitters with 190 barreled balls, which are hit with an exit velocity of 98 mph and a launch angle of 26-30 degrees.

Cruz has been a bright spot in what has largely been a disappointing week. The Mariners have lost six of their past seven games, and they are fading quickly in the AL Wild Card race. They are six games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card spot.

Cruz isn't letting up by any means, and Servais hopes his team follows suit in the club's remaining seven games.

"He has not backed off the gas, nor will he. That's just how he's wired," Servais said. "I don't think any of our guys have, but the focus level from the entire group has to continue to be there every day."

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seattle Mariners, Nelson Cruz