Orioles fight back, tie the Royals at 5-5 after six innings

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Update: The Orioles tied it in the sixth after Jonathan Schoop reached on a walk and Nick Markakis logged his third hit of the night with a single to right-center. Schoop stole third and Markakis advanced to second on an errant throw that glanced off of Schoop. Alejandro De Aza brought in Schoop for the tying run when he blooped a hit just behind the pitcher’s mound, out of the reach of a diving Alcides Escobar. We’re tied at five apiece going into the seventh.

Game 1 of the ALCS wasn’t going very well for the Orioles. The Royals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning. The Orioles took a run back in the bottom half of the inning, but it was only the start of an arduous journey back to even footing. Even worse, starter Chris Tillman couldn’t even make it out of the fifth inning, as manager Buck Showalter called on Tommy Hunter to get the final two outs of the frame.

But you can never count out the Orioles’ powerhouse offense. As quickly as the Orioles fell down, they picked themselves back up. The Orioles’ first two batters in the bottom of the fifth singled. After Adam Jones grounded out to third base for the first out of the inning, Nelson Cruz ripped an RBI double off of the fence in left field. Steve Pearce then walked to load the bases for J.J. Hardy. Hardy worked the count full, then took a slider on the inside corner that was called for strike three by home plate umpire Tim Timmons.

Royals starter James Shields saw light at the end of the tunnel, a way to escape the jam having given up just the one run. But Ryan Flaherty wouldn’t let him off the hook that easy. Flaherty ripped a single to right field, scoring Jones and Cruz to cut the deficit to one run. Shields got Nick Hundley to line out to second base to end the inning. It’s a one-run game as we enter the latter half of the ballgame.

Cruz continues his run of success in the post-season. Entering Friday night’s game, Cruz carried a .297/.349/.710 slash line with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 149 post-season plate appearances. As if he needed to do anything else to assure himself a payday when he heads into free agency following the conclusion of the playoffs.

No, the Astros aren’t being targeted for HBPs in spring training

Alex Bregman
Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!

Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.

José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.

Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.

Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.