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Can the Twins survive with hot-hitting Nelson Cruz sidelined by injury?

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday after being diagnosed with a ruptured ECU tendon in his left wrist.

Cruz, who spent three weeks on the injured list in May with pain in the same wrist, suffered the injury on a swing during Thursday’s 7-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

The injury will sideline Cruz through the remainder of the Twins critical weekend series against Cleveland. The Twins hold a one-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central standings.

MLB’s hottest home run hitter

There’s never a good time to lose a key member of the lineup. But this is a particularly rough time for Minnesota to lose Cruz, even if he only misses the minimum 10 days.

That’s in part because of the on-going series with Minnesota, which could tip the scales in the AL Central. It’s also because Cruz has been locked in at the plate, hitting a league-leading 14 home runs since July 20. That 18-game stretch includes the first two three-homer games of Cruz’s career.

Since that date, Cruz has posted a scorching hot .391/.466/1.094 batting line.

Potential silver lining

As ominous as this all sounds, the Twins are remaining optimistic that Cruz will not be sidelined for long.

Here’s why:

That season was on the downside of Morneau’s career, after multiple injuries had already taken their toll on him. He finished the season with a respectable .267/.333/.440 slash line, to go along with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs.

It’s difficult to get a read on how much the wrist impacted Morneau, but the Twins are obviously hopeful Cruz’s injury won’t be all doom and gloom.

Could the Twins survive without Nelson Cruz?

Given the depth of their lineup and the strong position they've put themselves in, yes, Minnesota could survive if Cruz's injury keeps him out for an extended period.

Minnesota is on a record-setting pace with 224 home runs through its first 115 games. That means manager Rocco Baldelli is getting production from nearly every spot in the lineup. Losing Cruz is a big blow, but it doesn't change that Minnesota's pitching will likely determine how far they end up going.

The loss certainly hurts in this on-going series with Cleveland. But even if the division lead slips away, Minnesota's still in strong position in the wild card race. With or without Cruz, they will be contenders.

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