Cruz slugs 2 HRs, leaves with sore left wrist

Cruz slugs 2 HRs, leaves with sore left wrist

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz put the hurt on the Twins again in Sunday's 4-3 win, with two more home runs, but had to leave the ballgame in the eighth inning after injuring his left wrist.

Seattle's designated hitter grabbed his arm after swinging and missing a pitch in the sixth, then ripped a line-drive home run on the next offering from Twins starter Hector Santiago for his second homer of the game.

The 36-year-old was pinch hit for by Seth Smith on his next at-bat in the eighth, but says he expects to be in the lineup when Seattle opens a key three-game series Monday in Houston.

Cruz missed two games in Texas at the end of August due to a nerve issue that left him without any feeling in three fingers in his left hand, but says this isn't the same problem and only hurts when he extends through a swing.

Cruz gets checked by the trainer

"It's different, but I've been dealing with it for four or five days," he said. "Hopefully it calms down and I'll be able to go tomorrow."

Cruz hit four home runs in the three-game series, including the second-longest Statcast-measured homer of the season on Saturday at 493 feet. He also hit a 454-footer in Friday's series opener.

Sunday's first home run -- a leadoff blast in the second -- was projected at 432 feet as it reached the second deck in left-center field at Target Field. His second homer, another solo shot, was a 381-foot line drive with an exit velocity of 115 mph.

With the Mariners fighting for their playoff lives, Cruz has been doing some impressive heavy lifting.

"It's huge," said Taijuan Walker, who picked up Sunday's win. "This is something he did for us last year, too, but he did it at the beginning of the year. The fact he's doing it late in the season now when it really counts, plus I've never seen him in this much pain before, so it's pretty incredible. He's hitting 500-foot [homers] with a hurt wrist and two home runs today? It's unbelievable."

Statcast: Cruz's pair of homers

The Twins have seen enough of Cruz, who has nine homers in his last 10 games at Target Field.

"When a guy is hot, it's dangerous trying to go inside," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We talked about who you don't want to beat you and it still happened, so it's disappointing. The first home run we got in on a foul ball and tried to go in with a cutter and it was left over the middle.

"The next time, he had that wrist discomfort and we came in on the next pitch and he was cheating. He finished off his day pretty impressively, considering I know he wasn't doing too well."

Cruz has 41 home runs on the season, his third straight season with 40-plus, and just three shy of his career high of 44 set last year with seven games remaining.

"After the season, if we don't accomplish what we came here to do, then you can look at numbers and enjoy if you want to," he said. "But right now the main thing is to win games."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.