Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz getting hot at a great time for Texas

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Take a bow, Nelson Cruz.

Already having homered to give the Rangers their third run in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Tigers, Cruz unleashed some more fury Monday, tying the game with a solo bomb in the seventh and then hitting a rare walkoff grand slam in the 11th as the Rangers won 7-3.

Cruz, who was just 1-for-15 in the ALDS against the Rays, has nine homers, seven doubles and 16 RBI in 22 games over the last two postseasons. He was instrumental in the Rangers’ run to the World Series last year, hitting six homers and knocking in 11 runs.

And now Cruz, who went from hitting .318 in 2010 to .263 this year, is hot again. He certainly has to be taken seriously as one of the game’s top sluggers when he’s on. Over the last three seasons, he ranks 11th in baseball in slugging percentage at .534, leaving him just a tad behind guys like Ryan Braun (.548), Prince Fielder (.547) and teammate Josh Hamilton (.546). His production is inflated by playing in Texas and his rate stats probably wouldn’t be as strong anywhere else, but there’s no questioning his power.

One need merely ask Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Ryan Perry about that.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.