After being limited to pinch-hit duty over opening weekend by the National League’s rulebook, Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz received his first start of the season on Monday against the Detroit Tigers. Naturally, the 40-year-old found a way to celebrate the occasion by homering twice, including once as part of a memorable sequence that resulted in the 10th grand slam of his career.
Cruz came to bat against Tigers right-hander Jose Urena in the top of the second innings with the bases loaded and the Twins up by a 2-0 margin. We’ve already told you about the destination, but the route to the grand slam was longer than usual. That’s because on the second pitch of the at-bat, Cruz hit a ball down the right-field line that appeared as though it could have stayed fair for a grand slam. The umpiring staff reviewed the play, however, and ruled that the ball had instead gone foul.
Undeterred by man-made obstacles, such as foul poles and video reviews, Cruz stepped back to the plate and on the next pitch hit a liner to left field that left no doubt about its fairness. Just like that, Cruz had his first home run of the season. Take a gander at these moving pictures if you question the accuracy of the written account above:
In addition to being Cruz’s first home run of the season, it was also the 418th of his career. He didn’t wait around too long for Nos. 2 and 419. In the fifth inning, he again homered to left field against Tigers reliever Buck Farmer.
Cruz would still seem to be a long shot for joining the 500-homer club, albeit largely for reasons outside of his control — the combination of his age, the pandemic-shortened season, and the threat of a labor stoppage in 2022 will be hard to overcome. Nonetheless, he’s proven to be one of the best home-run hitters of his generation for a reason, and he’s still more than capable of putting on displays that reinforce his status.