For at least one day, Nelson Cruz made the Baltimore Orioles look smart for signing him to a one-year, $8 million extension.
Locked in a tough Opening Day divisional battle with the Boston Red Sox, the Orioles sent Cruz to the plate in the 7th inning. Facing Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester with the score tied 1-1, Cruz swung at the first pitch he saw and squared it up for the go-ahead home run.
Right-handed power is hard to come by in today’s game. Consider this: Sports Illustrated had an entire section of their 2014 baseball preview dedicated to the lack of right-handed power in today’s game. Yet there Nelson Cruz was, looking for work right up until the end of the off-season.
In a way this winning home run embodied all the good that Cruz can bring. Facing a tough left-handed starter in a tied game, Cruz crushed a mistake. In this case that run was the difference and the Orioles started the season off with a 2-1 victory.
The Orioles are a hard team to project because of their uncertainty on the pitching side of things. But this lineup should mash, and if today is any indication, Cruz will be right in the middle of it.