Indians-Rangers Preview

Nelson Cruz is back from his most recent stint on the disabled

list, though Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington plans to work him

back into the lineup slowly.

Given the way David Murphy and Adrian Beltre are swinging the

bat, Washington can afford to take his time.

AL West-leading Texas looks to continue its hot hitting when it

continues its three-game home series against the slumping Cleveland

Indians on Wednesday night.

Cruz hasn’t played since straining his left hamstring suffered

Aug. 28, despite the fact he was activated from the DL prior to

Tuesday’s 10-4 series-opening win. Washington said Cruz will be

limited to pinch-hitting duty at first, then be inserted into the

designated hitter spot.

Murphy has been stellar in his absence, making his case to be a

regular in the lineup even when Cruz is fully healthy.

He hit two solo homers and finished with four hits Tuesday, and

is batting .424 with six homers and 20 RBIs over his last 16

games.

“When Nelson comes back, it’s not going to affect the way David

is playing,” Washington said. “He’s going to continue to play if he

continues to swing the bat the way he’s swinging. How am I going to

pull him out of the lineup?”

Beltre has been swinging a hot bat of his own. He homered for

the third straight game Tuesday, also tying a career best with a

17-game hitting streak. His current streak dates back to July 16,

as Beltre missed 37 games July 23-Aug. 31 with a left hamstring

strain.

The veteran third baseman is batting .383 with four homers and

13 RBIs in 11 games since coming off the DL.

Josh Hamilton added his first home run of the month in the

series opener for the Rangers (84-64), who have scored 38 runs

while winning three of their last four games.

“This is one of the best lineups in the league, right up there

with the one in New York and the one in Boston. Nellie Cruz wasn’t

even in the lineup,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “They’re so

deep one through nine.”

Cleveland (72-73) has dropped six of eight and has fallen 12 1/2

games behind AL Central-leading Detroit.

Carlos Santana was a bright spot Tuesday, becoming the first

Indians player to homer from both sides of the plate since Victor

Martinez on June 1, 2007. He’s 3 for 6 with a double and a homer

lifetime off Derek Holland (13-5, 4.12 ERA), who will take the

mound for the Rangers on Wednesday.

Holland is 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last nine starts, limiting

the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in seven of them. He

allowed four runs – three earned – in 6 2-3 innings of Texas’ 5-4,

10-inning loss to Tampa Bay last Wednesday.

Cleveland, though, got to Holland early Aug. 5, scoring six runs

– including Santana’s three-run homer – and forcing him from the

game after only 1 2-3 innings. His previous outing against the

Indians on June 4 went much better when he threw a five-hit shutout

– his first of four this season.

David Huff (2-4, 3.05) will oppose Holland looking to get back

on track.

Huff allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-1 defeat to the

Chicago White Sox on Thursday, falling to 1-3 with a 5.23 ERA in

his last four starts.

The left-hander pitched a gem in his only career start against

the Rangers on April 15, 2010, allowing four hits while throwing a

complete game in a 3-2 victory.