BOSTON - Nelson Cruz picked up his second RBI today and the 500th of his career.
It came in unorthodox fashion.
Cruz was called out on a bouncer behind third base with runners on the corners and two outs in the top of the sixth inning. He immediately signaled that he was safe and manager Buck Showalter strolled onto the field to give Adam Gladstone - who was hired this season to check the video for possible challenges - enough time to review the play.
Gladstone doesn’t have a formal title. We’ll go with “replay coordinator.”
The Orioles and Cardinals were the only teams that hadn’t challenged before today. The call was reversed, giving Cruz an infield hit that scored Adam Jones and allowed the Orioles to tie the game 2-2.
Nick Markakis led off the inning with a single before Delmon Young grounded into a 1-6-3 double play, with another close call at first base. Jones doubled and stole third base, Chris Davis was hit by a pitch and Cruz sent a bouncer up the third base line that Brock Holt fielded behind the bag.
Holt bounced a throw to first that Mike Napoli dug out of the dirt. Too late, as it turned out.
The delay lasted only 49 seconds.
I questioned why Jones was stealing third with two outs and the Orioles down by a run. He already was in scoring position. A risky move, but it paid off. He wouldn’t have scored otherwise.
Bud Norris has thrown 91 pitches in six innings, the last producing a called third strike on Napoli to strand Dustin Pedroia at second base. No action in the Orioles bullpen at the moment.
Update: Both dugouts emptied in the seventh while catcher Matt Wieters and Red Sox catcher David Ross stood nose-to-nose at home plate. No punches were thrown and order was quickly restored.
Ross may have taken exception to a high and tight pitch from Norris. The Orioles may have tired of Ross stepping out of the box. And guys trying to lay down a bunt often get pitched inside.
Whatever the reason, Ross yelled at Norris and Wieters got in his face.
Ross struck out, but Brock Holt delivered an RBI triple and scored on Jonathan Herrera’s bunt to the right side, with Davis hesitating and making a late flip to the plate.
Norris was charged with four runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings, with two walks, seven strikeouts and one home run. He threw 103 pitches before Evan Meek replaced him following Holt’s triple.
Update II: Former Oriole Koji Uehara issued his first walk of the season before striking out the side, and the Orioles lost to the Red Sox 4-2 to even the series.
Lots to talk about with Showalter following the brief altercation between Wieters and Ross and the team’s first challenge.