The Rangers may step up their pursuit of Lance Berkman now that Nelson Cruz will be sidelined for three weeks following yet another hamstring injury, but an intriguing in-house replacement is on his way from the minor leagues.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, prospect outfielder Leonys Martin will take Cruz’s place on the active roster tomorrow.
Martin, who defected from Cuba last year, was added to the 40-man roster after signing a five-year, $15.5 million contract with the Rangers in May. The 23-year-old batted .348/.435/.571 with four homers, 24 RBI and a 15/8 K/BB ratio over 135 plate appearances with Double-A Frisco, but has struggled a bit since being promoted to Triple-A Round Rock last month, hitting .263/.316/.314 with a .630 OPS over 192 plate appearances. Still, he has plus-speed and is highly regarded for his defense in center field.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Rangers were considering using Martin as their primary center fielder down the stretch, but given his struggles in Triple-A and the strong play of Endy Chavez, that’s unlikely to happen now. Wilson believes that David Murphy will serve as the primary right fielder during Cruz’s absence, so Martin will likely function as a backup outfielder and pinch-runner down the stretch.
Entering Thursday’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez had never hit a home run nor even driven in a run in the playoffs in his four-year career. He had homered twice in a regular season game just twice and his career-high for RBI in a game was four.
Hernandez hit three home runs and knocked in seven runs to help power the Dodgers past the Cubs 11-1 to win the National League pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series. His first homer was a solo homer to center field in the second inning off of starter Jose Quintana. He blasted a grand slam to right field off of Hector Rondon in the fourth, then tacked on a two-run blast in the ninth inning off of Mike Montgomery to make it 11-1.
Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Jose Altuve, of course, did it two weeks ago in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. Before Altuve, Pablo Sandoval (2012), Albert Pujols (2011), and Adrian Beltre (2011) were the last players to accomplish the feat. As Jayson Stark points out, Hernandez joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Adam Kennedy, and Beltre as players to hit three homers in a series clincher.
Hernandez’s seven RBI set a new National League record for a postseason game. Only four other players — Troy O’Leary, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Edgar Martinez — accomplished the feat.
No one has hit three home runs and knocked in seven-plus in a game… until Hernandez. He certainly picked a good time to break out.