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Rays’ Nelson Cruz moves into 42nd place on all-time homer list

Rays notes | A two-homer night gives him 443; more pitching staff shuffles, Chris Ellis gets a W.
The Rays' Nelson Cruz, right, celebrates with Wander Franco, left, and Kevin Kiermaier after Cruz hit a three-run home run off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher John Means during the fifth inning Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
The Rays' Nelson Cruz, right, celebrates with Wander Franco, left, and Kevin Kiermaier after Cruz hit a three-run home run off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher John Means during the fifth inning Tuesday at Tropicana Field. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press ]
Published Aug. 18, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — Nelson Cruz hasn’t hit that many balls hard since joining the Rays on July 23 in a big trade from Minnesota.

But when he does, as on Tuesday night, they tend to go far and mean a lot.

Cruz homered twice, Nos. 442 and 443 of his illustrious 17-season career, in the Rays’ 10-0 win over Baltimore, moving him past Dave Kingman and into 42nd place all-time. Next on the list, at 449, are Jeff Bagwell and Vlad Guerrero.

“Definitely a blessing,” Cruz said. “Never imagined growing up that I was going to hit that many homers, that I was going to be on that list. I played with Vladdy. He was my idol growing up, the guy that I want to play like. I got a chance to play with him (with Texas in 2010), so just a blessing.”

Cruz now has 26 homers for the season between the Rays and the Twins, and 39 career multi-homer games. They also were his first two homers at the Trop as a Ray — having hit nine as a visitor. Tuesday he had a three-run homer in the fifth, then a 437-foot two-run blast in the sixth.

“Anytime you hit homers, especially if you win, that’s a plus,” he said. “And to be able to do my job and contribute to win games, it makes it more exciting.”

The big night was the payoff for the extra work Cruz did on his swing after Monday’s game and Tuesday morning. He had hit just .182 (14-for-77) with five homers in his first 19 games with the Rays.

New pitcher in, familiar faces down and out

Rays officials have had interest for a while in Shawn Armstrong, a 30-year-old right-handed reliever who has pitched in the majors for the Indians, Mariners and Orioles. They got him July 30 in a small cash deal from Baltimore, where he was pitching at Triple-A after a rough start to the season, and brought him to the majors Tuesday, adding a fresh arm to their bullpen for the fourth time in six days.

To make room, they sent down infielder Mike Brosseau, who homered Monday. And to create space on the 40-man roster, they designated for assignment infielder Kevin Padlo, a once-promising prospect who struggled this season in the majors (1-for-12 in nine games) and at Triple-A (.194, 12 homers, 37 RBIs, 93 strikeouts, .649 OPS). They will need to make further 26- and 40-man roster moves Wednesday when Ryan Yarbrough returns from the COVID-19-related injured list.

Medical matters: Archer, Anderson, Diaz

Chris Archer, out since an April forearm injury, had a solid, potentially last rehab outing for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday, allowing one hit — albeit a three-run homer — over 4 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two, throwing 45 of 71 pitches for strikes. He allowed two walks, then the homer with two outs in the fourth. …. Nick Anderson, rehabbing a spring forearm sprain, allowed two hits and one earned run in a 14-pitch inning in his third outing at Durham. … Infielder Yandy Diaz returned to the lineup for the first time since leaving Friday’s game with a sprained left thumb, playing third and going 0-for-4. … Relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Ryan Thompson, sidelined with shoulder issues, will make their first rehab outings for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, working an inning each. … Pete Fairbanks, also out with a shoulder injury, will advance to facing hitters for the first time on Thursday.

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⋅ Right-hander Chris Ellis, called up Monday, worked the final four innings and was awarded the win, his first in what was just his second big-league appearance. His other was March 31, 2019, with Kansas City.

⋅ Mike Zunino’s streak of homering in five straight games matched Jose Canseco (1999) for second longest in team history behind Carlos Pena’s six in 2010, and the second longest for a catcher in major-league history (since 1901) behind the Giants’ Walker Cooper (1947).

⋅ Randy Arozarena had four hits and a .514 average (18-for-35) during a sizzling nine-game hitting streak.

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