NEW YORK -- The Rangers lost Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday, but it doesn't look like they lost one of their biggest run producers.Nelson Cruz, one of the club's steadiest hitters this postseason, left in the fifth inning because of tightness in his left hamstring. But after the Rangers' 7-2 loss at Yankee Stadium, Cruz said he expects to play in Game 6 on Friday. "Yeah, definitely," he proclaimed. Cruz has had three stints on the disabled list due to hamstring issues this season, the last two of which specifically stemmed from his left hamstring. But his exit from Wednesday's game was precautionary, and he said the reason was unrelated to previous hamstring strains he has suffered. "It's just tight," Cruz said. "[Manager Ron Washington] said he didn't want to take any risks, and that's why they shut me down today."
Cruz said he felt tightness while walking down the dugout steps after the second inning. In the bottom of the second, Cruz made a throw to the plate on Jorge Posada's run-scoring single to left field that sparked the injury. He stayed in the game for a fourth-inning double and came out for the bottom of the fifth, with David Murphy checking in as his replacement.Cruz said he didn't really feel any pain on his double, and he expects to at least take part in jogging exercises during the Rangers' workout in Texas on Thursday. As for Friday? "I should be playing," Cruz said. "They took me out because they don't want to take any more risks. I told them I'm ready to play." Cruz missed 36 games because of DL stints for strained left hamstrings in 2010, once from May 30 to June 22 and another from Aug. 16 to Aug. 30. He was also sidelined from April 27 to May 14 because of a strained right hamstring. With a 1-for-2 performance on Wednesday, Cruz is batting .378 (14-for-37) with four homers and six RBIs while hitting safely in each of the Rangers' 10 postseason games. The Rangers expect to continue to have his bat in this series. "He's going to be fine," fellow outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "I think, more than anything, there's no reason to take a chance at that point and have Nellie go out there, especially when it's cold here. It'll be warm back at home; he'll loosen up quicker. The last thing you want Nellie to do is go out there -- he's been playing so well -- and go out there and pull something in the seventh, eighth inning, when it's cold." When Cruz was replaced, the Rangers were trailing, 5-1. Cruz said he was OK with the move, though he of course admitted: "I want to stay, you know. But it's the manager's decision. He told me to shut it down." "Not that we were out of the ballgame, but at the same time, if it's 2-2, 3-2, it might be a different situation," Francoeur added. "But at the same time, I think any baseball guy will say you see the big picture, and we need his bat for [Game] 6, and if there is a seventh, [Game] 7."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.