Mariners need Cruz's bat against Rockies (May 30, 2017)
DENVER -- Nelson Cruz hit cleanup as usual Monday for the Seattle Mariners and very likely will do so Tuesday when they finish a two-game interleague set against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Cruz has been Seattle's designated hitter in 45 of 46 American League games, but to get him in the lineup against the Rockies, Mariners manager Scott Servais started him in right field.
Cruz did start 48 games at that position last year, and he played two games in right field in Washington on Seattle's current road trip. However, the outfield at Coors Field is spacious, something Servais considered in passing.
"It's probably the most challenging in the league to play in," Servais said, "but we need Cruz's bat in the lineup. We know we're going to need to score runs here; he's a big part of what we're trying to do offensively. And not just the bat, what he does for our team from a leadership standpoint. It means a lot to our team."
Cruz went 0-for-4 with one RBI on Monday in Seattle's 6-5 win over the Rockies. He drew a walk and scored a run in the Mariners' three-run fifth that increased their lead to 6-2.
Cruz flied out to the right field wall in the ninth and drove in a run in the third on a slow grounder that third baseman Nolan Arenado charged and barehanded.
Left-hander Ariel Miranda (4-2, 4.22 ERA) will start for the Mariners against left-hander Tyler Anderson (3-4, 5.40 ERA).
Anderson has never faced Seattle. In his past four starts, Anderson is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA, allowing 21 hits and seven walks in 24 2/3 innings with 32 strikeouts.
He was not involved in the decision in his last start at Philadelphia on Thursday, when he pitched a season-high seven innings and allowed one run on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven in a game the Rockies lost 2-1.
In three interleague starts, all at Coors Field, Anderson is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA.
Miranda won his most recent start, Thursday at Washington, allowing three hits and two runs in five innings with three walks and four strikeouts in the Mariners' 4-2 victory. He will be facing the Rockies for the first time.
He is 2-0 with a 5.57 ERA in four career interleague starts.
Miranda will be facing an improving Trevor Story. The Rockies shortstop went 1-for-4 and hit his eighth homer of the season Monday. Since being reinstated after missing 13 games due to a strained left shoulder, Story has gone 5-for-19 (.263) with two homers and five RBIs and five strikeouts. At the time of his injury, Story was hitting .180 (20-for-111) with 48 strikeouts.
"He's getting closer," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I liked the opposite-field homer he hit in Philadelphia (on Thursday off Vince Velasquez). I liked the opposite-field homer today. He's staying on pitches."
The Mariners, whom the Rockies had not played since 2015, pose an interesting challenge for a young hitter such as Story. He faced three pitchers -- Gaviglio, left-hander James Pazos and closer Edwin Diaz -- for the first time Monday.
"It's tough when you haven't seen guys, but that's part of it," Story said. "Just go out there and compete as best you can."