There are few opposing pitchers who would welcome a fight with Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz. At 6-2, 230 pounds, he a big dude. He’s also hit at least 40 home runs in each of the past three seasons, so you know he’s strong. He’s not a guy you want to provoke.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Derek Holland nearly found that out the hard way Sunday. In the first inning, Holland lost control of an 88 mph fastball and nailed Cruz right in the hip. After being hit, Cruz looked down at the ball for a moment and then faked a stride toward the mound as if he were about to charge Holland.
He may have fooled catcher Omar Narvaez, who stood up and walked toward the field. It looked like he might be going to pick up the ball at first, but then follows Cruz up the line just in case the designated hitter decided to charge.
It wasn’t the worst decision. After Cruz takes a few steps up the first base line, he again fakes charging the mound against Holland, who has now come closer to the plate to pick up the ball.
Turns out, there was no reason to worry, Cruz’s bluff appeared to be all in good fun. Cruz actually playsedit off pretty well, displaying a solid poker face throughout. You can see him break the tiniest smile just after his second charge attempt. It’s a solid acting job by Cruz.
Holland completely gives it away, though. After the first fake charge, you can see Holland smile and nod at his former teammate.
We have to guess that had something to do with it. Cruz and Holland spent five years together with the Texas Rangers. They know each other well, and that was likely Cruz’s way of messing with his old pal after he had the audacity to plunk him.
Cruz would get his revenge, though not on Holland. In the top of the 10th inning, he hit a solo home run off reliever Chris Beck to give the Mariners the lead. They would go on to win the contest 7-6 thanks to his blast.
Cruz may have been messing with a teammate in this instance, but he did provide a pretty valuable lesson to anyone considering charging the mound in anger. Sure, you can get your revenge and get ejected, but it’s so much sweeter to keep your cool and single-handedly beat your opponent with a big hit later.
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