Nelson Cruz has been lethal during his latest home run streak no matter what the count has been, though he’s had his problems against Brett Anderson, who was once a major nemesis to the Seattle Mariners.
The slugger looks to homer for the fifth straight game Wednesday night and spoil Anderson’s hopes of helping the Los Angeles Dodgers complete a three-game home sweep.
Cruz has gone deep five times and driven in eight runs in his four-game power surge, matching a career-best homer streak in the first four games for Texas in 2011.
Every homer in this streak has come on a different count, with his solo shot in Tuesday’s 6-5 loss on a full-count offering. He has also connected on counts of 1-0, 2-0, 1-1 and 1-2 in this stretch.
Alex Rodriguez was the last Mariner to homer in five straight games in 1999.
"He’s been impressive the way he’s been swinging," second baseman Robinson Cano, who also homered, said of Cruz. "He had a great year last year (40 homers with Baltimore), and hopefully this year will be the same way and he’ll help us win some games."
Now Cruz could get a stern test against Anderson, who has faced Seattle (3-5) more than any opponent due to his time with Oakland from 2009-13. Anderson is 7-4 with a 1.83 ERA in 14 starts versus the Mariners.
Cruz is 1 for 10 with a homer against the left-hander, though they haven’t met since 2011. His five homers match the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez for the big-league lead.
Other Seattle hitters have also found it tough to solve Anderson, with Robinson Cano going 4 for 15 with a home run, Austin Jackson 1 for 10 and Kyle Seager 1 for 6.
Anderson gave up three runs in six innings in Friday’s club debut in a 4-3, 10-inning defeat at Arizona.
It doesn’t look like he will have to pitch to Yasiel Puig, who has homered in back-to-back games but was held out Tuesday due to a tight left hamstring. Manager Don Mattingly is leaning toward not using him until Friday.
"It’s early in the season," Mattingly told the Dodgers’ official website. "We’re being cautious."
Los Angeles (5-3) captured the first two games in its final at-bat. Alex Guerrero singled in the winning run with the bases loaded in the 10th inning of Monday’s 6-5 victory before the Dodgers won by the same score the next night on Howie Kendrick’s two-run single with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
"I just wanted to get a pitch I could hit, something up," Kendrick said. "My previous at-bat, I kind of got outside of what I was trying to do, but that at-bat, I went back to my normal approach."
Reliever Yimi Garcia earned both victories with hitless innings. The Dodgers bullpen has allowed one run in eight innings in this series, while Mariners relievers have posted a 5.14 ERA over the last five games.
Taijuan Walker will start for Seattle after a stellar spring did not translate to the regular season. Walker went 4-0 with a 0.67 ERA in seven Cactus League starts before allowing a career-worst nine runs over 3 1-3 innings in Friday’s 12-0 defeat at Oakland.
The right-hander has never faced the Dodgers or any of their hitters and has never batted in a big-league game.
Gonzalez has hit safely in every game, going 17 for 31 (.548).