Nelson Cruz expects hamstring to be fine for Game 6

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As noted in our handy little ALCS Game 5 Live Blog, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was pulled from Wednesday’s game because of tightness in his left hamstring — the same hamstring that forced him to the disabled list twice this year.  He landed on the disabled list a third time with right hamstring problems.

For now, it appears the slugger will be fine for the rest of the postseason.

Cruz told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez after Wednesday’s loss that he was pulled for precautionary reasons and that he should be good to go by Game 6 on Friday.

The 30-year-old is batting .378/.410/.838 with four home runs and five doubles over 37 at-bats in these 2010 playoffs.  He is a monster at the plate and will play a crucial role in what will either be a horrible collapse or a joyous celebration in this ALCS with New York.  The Rangers, as a franchise, have never been to the World Series and have only been to the playoffs four times since 1961.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.