Nelson Cruz gives Orioles a 2-0 lead in ALDS Game 3 with a two-run homer


Tigers starter David Price was on a roll, having matched Orioles starter Bud Norris with five shutout innings. But things quickly started going downhill when the top of the sixth inning began, starting with catcher Alex Avila leaving the game after taking a Steve Pearce foul ball off of his facemask.

Bryan Holaday replaced Avila, and Price retired Pearce on a fly ball. Following that, Adam Jones reached on a single to left-center to bring up Nelson Cruz. Price evened the count at 1-1 to Cruz, then threw him an outside 84 MPH change-up. Cruz lined it down the right field line. Somehow, Cruz not only got enough power behind it, but was able to keep it fair as it tucked into the stands just to the left of the right field foul pole. It’s Cruz’s second homer of the ALDS and he has five RBI — easily making him the Orioles’ most productive hitter in the post-season thus far.

Norris retired the middle of the Tigers’ lineup in order in the bottom half of the sixth on three consecutive ground balls. The Orioles are nine outs away from advancing to the ALCS.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.