Nelson Cruz created Major League Baseball history by smashing the first ever game-winning grand slam in a playoff.
His remarkable effort guided Texas Rangers to a 7-3 win over Detroit Tigers and into a 2-0 lead in their second round playoff series.
Cruz hit a towering homer into the left field stands with no outs in the bottom of the 11th inning Monday after blasting a game-tying home run four innings earlier. His walkoff grand slam came off Tigers pitcher Ryan Perry.
“It was amazing,” said Cruz, who also ripped a game-tying solo homer in the seventh inning and was hit on the right arm by a fastball by Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer in the ninth.
Cruz’s grand slam sent the crowd of 51,227 into a frenzy as his teammates mobbed him during a wild celebration at home plate.
“The first two pitches I was too aggressive. I hit the ball, foul ball, foul ball,” said Cruz. “After that, I told myself just slow down and try to hit a fly ball to the outfield.”
Cruz also homered in Texas’ game one 3-2 victory. Cruz got a helping hand Monday from the Rangers’ relief pitchers as the group combined to pitch 8 1/3 scoreless innings.
Cruz is four-for-seven with three home runs in the series after struggling in the opening round of the postseason against Tampa Bay, when he had only a single in 15 plate appearances.
Game two was supposed to be played Sunday but organizers postponed it one day because of the threat of rain in Texas. Game three is Tuesday in Detroit. Colby Lewis will start for Texas while Doug Fister gets the starting nod for the Tigers.
Detroit’s Ryan Raburn hit a three-run homer in the third to give the Tigers the lead, but the American League Central champs didn’t get another run.
“It’s been a great two games,” said manager Jim Leyland. “It didn’t go the right way, obviously. They earned it, and we didn’t quite get it done.
“We haven’t been able to come up with any big hits. That’s really hard. We’ve had some opportunities, but up to this point, we just haven’t been able to do that.”