Nelson Cruz returns to Rangers’ starting lineup tonight

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Nelson Cruz is back in the Rangers’ starting lineup tonight against the Mariners as the designated hitter. He struck out in a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday, but this will be his first start since straining his left hamstring on August 28.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers hope Cruz will be able to play right field again as soon as Tuesday. If he feels well enough to give it a go, Josh Hamilton will become the center fielder and the hot-hitting David Murphy will play left field. Craig Gentry and Endy Chavez, who have split center field duties for most of the season, will head to the bench.

Cruz, 31, is batting .270/.321/.530 with 28 home runs, 84 RBI, nine stolen bases and an .851 OPS over 470 plate appearances this season.

Watch: Brian McCann’s incredible tag nails Greg Bird at home plate

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Things got a little wild in the fifth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday. With one out and runners at the corners, Astros’ right-hander Charlie Morton fired a 1-1 fastball to Todd Frazier. Frazier returned the ball to third baseman Alex Bregman, who tossed a perfect throw over to Brian McCann at the plate just as Greg Bird came charging home. McCann’s setup was flawless, nailing Bird as he slid into the plate and nullifying the Yankees’ first real attempt to get on the board.

That’s as close as the Yankees have come to scoring so far. The Astros took an early 1-0 lead with Evan Gattis‘ 405-footer off of CC Sabathia in the top of the fourth inning. Jose Altuve chimed in with an opposite-field solo shot in the fifth, while McCann followed his lead-preserving tag with an equally jaw-dropping two-out, two-RBI double. Houston currently leads 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth.