SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz hit more home runs than anyone in the Majors from 2014-17, and the big Mariners designated hitter wasted no time getting a jump-start on 2018 as well, slugging the first pitch he saw from Indians ace Corey Kluber over the center-field fence for a two-run shot
SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz hit more home runs than anyone in the Majors from 2014-17, and the big Mariners designated hitter wasted no time getting a jump-start on 2018 as well, slugging the first pitch he saw from Indians ace Corey Kluber over the center-field fence for a two-run shot at Safeco Field that wound up being the difference in Seattle's 2-1 win.
Cruz's first swing of the season resulted in a 412-foot blast to give Seattle a 2-0 lead in the first inning against last year's American League Cy Young Award winner.
The 37-year-old was most happy about getting his team off to a good start against an Indians club that had the best record in the AL last season, behind a strong outing from Felix Hernandez.
"Everybody knows what King Felix can do, especially on Opening Days," Cruz said. "He always steps up. We came up big early, and the bullpen did what we're expecting. That was the plan since Spring Training started -- Felix goes six and then the bullpen takes care of the rest. We accomplished a pretty good thing today."
It was the fourth career Opening Day home run for Cruz, who's hit .303 (10-for-33) in his last 10 season debuts.
Cruz has been dealing with a sore quad muscle in the last few weeks and isn't running well on the bases. He avoided that issue by putting one over the fence.
"I asked him how his leg was after he jogged around the bases, and he said it was just fine. We can do that again," manager Scott Servais said.
Robinson Cano preceded Cruz with a two-out single off the right-field wall, a line drive with a 112.9 mph exit velocity that was the hardest-hit ball Kluber has allowed since Sept. 16, 2016, per Statcast™.
Cruz then followed with an 111-mph exit velocity on his home run. The 37-year-old hit 39 home runs last season and 166 from 2014-17. The next closest slugger over that span was Edwin Encarnacion with 153. Cruz was presented with his 2017 Silver Slugger Award prior to Thursday's game.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB