ARLINGTON -- Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate in the fourth inning with an ugly .063 batting average in 16 playoff at-bats so far in the postseason, but he busted out in a big way, hitting a 2-0 pitch from Tigers ace Justin Verlander over the left-field wall in a 3-2 Game 1 American League Championship Series win for the Rangers on Saturday night.

"It was a sinker," Cruz said. "All my first at-bat, all the fastballs I saw were sinkers, so I saw the replay, and [Tigers catcher Alex] Avila set up outside, but the pitch was in to me."

Cruz hitting big home runs for the Rangers in the playoffs is hardly a new thing, as the home run marks his seventh, breaking Juan Gonzalez's franchise record for playoff home runs.

Cruz has a knack for hitting home runs in the ALCS, too, as he's hit three in his last four games.

Cruz control
With his fifth-inning homer, Nelson Cruz holds the franchise mark for postseason dingers.
Player G AB HR
Nelson Cruz 21 79 7
Juan Gonzalez 10 39 6
Josh Hamilton 21 77 5
Ian Kinsler 21 73 4
Adrian Beltre 5 19 3
Bengie Molina 13 41 2
Mitch Moreland 19 59 2
David Murphy 15 36 1
Mike Napoli 5 17 1
Dean Palmer 4 19 1
Michael Young 21 23 1

Not bad for a player who seemed to be heading toward the bench. Since coming back from a left hamstring strain on Sept. 14, Cruz entered Saturday batting .158 between playoff and regular-season games. In Friday's workout session, manager Ron Washington gave Cruz what amounted to a vote of confidence, saying that his outfielder was swinging the bat well and a victim of bad luck.

"He didn't have the consistency that I know he would like to have, but every now and then, he would sting one, but he didn't catch any breaks," Washington said on Friday. "He stung a couple balls pretty good, he just didn't get anything for it. Just got to keep getting his at-bats. His teammates will keep picking him up, and pretty soon, he'll pick up his teammates."

Cruz felt he was swinging the bat well, too.

"Definitely the last few games I feel like I swing the bat well," Cruz said. "I haven't been lucky enough to get the hits where there is nobody. Today, I hit it where there was nobody but good guys."