Orioles’ fans hearts jumped into their throats in the top of the third inning on Sunday afternoon when Astros starter Scott Feldman drilled Nelson Cruz in the left hand with a fastball. Cruz was in some very obvious initial pain, but stayed in the game to run the bases. He was taken out when the inning ended with David Lough moving from left to right field and Delmon Young entering the game in left field.
Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that x-rays came up negative for Cruz, which should allow Baltimore residents to breathe a great sigh of relief. The Orioles are listing Cruz as day-to-day with a left hand contusion. The Orioles have an off-day on Monday and open up a three-game series on the road against the Rangers on Tuesday. Cruz says he will see how he feels on Monday to determine if he can play on Tuesday.
Cruz is the major league leader in home runs and RBI with 20 and 52, respectively. He is slashing .314/.384/.672.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.