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Happy Birthday, Nelson Cruz

Blake VandeBunteContributor ISeptember 13, 2009

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Nelson Cruz #43 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a portrait during Tigers Photo Day at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 27, 2005 in Lakeland, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Today is Nelson Cruzs 37th birthday.  I’m not talking about the slugging outfielder for the Texas Rangers, rather I’m writing about the former Tigers pitcher.

Cruz played for the Tigers back in 1999 and 2000.  Judging by the those two years, you can imagine that he played on some pretty bad teams.  He was signed as a free agent prior to the 1999 season before he was traded to the Houston Astros (typical Randy Smith) in 2000.  He was signed again by the Tigers in January 2005 and stuck in the organization until June when Dave Dombrowski cut him loose.  He hasn’t played in a big league game since 2003.

He piled up a big league record of 15-23, which went with an ERA of 5.04.  Those two sets of numbers tell you that this guy didn’t have much of a career.  However, for a couple of weeks while with the Tigers, he was pretty darn good.

In 2000, his second year in Detroit, Cruz didn’t get the call to the Tigers until late June.  However, over his first 13.1 innings of work with the Tigers he gave up only 1 ER, good for an ERA of 0.68.  Opposing batters hit only .215 off of him and he struck out better than a batter per inning.

Through his first 16 games that season, covering 30.2 innings, Cruz had an ERA of 1.76.  Sadly, the bottom fell out for old Nelson and he finished with an ERA a tick above 3.00.  It was his best season as a big leaguer.

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