HOUSTON - The Orioles have been struck with another injury, this one to their best hitter.
Nelson Cruz exited today’s game in the bottom of the third inning after being hit on the left hand or wrist by an 87 mph fastball from Astros starter Scott Feldman. No word yet from the Orioles on the exact nature of the injury.
Feldman hit Manny Machado on the left elbow with one out in the first, and he drilled Cruz with one out in the third following Machado’s double into left-center field. Cruz knelt in obvious pain as head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and manager Buck Showalter rushed onto the field.
Cruz stayed in the game and advanced to second base on a double steal before Adam Jones’ sacrifice fly scored Machado for a 3-0 lead. David Lough replaced Cruz in right field in the bottom of the inning, with Delmon Young taking over in left field.
Young made a sliding catch to rob Jonathan Villar, with shortstop J.J. Hardy hurdling him at the last instant.
The Orioles can’t afford to lose Cruz, who’s batting .314 and leads the majors with 20 home runs and 52 RBIs. Cruz drove in five of the Orioles’ last nine runs before today.
Cruz had built a 12-game hitting streak since May 20, going 20-for-42 (.476) with six doubles, eight homers, 15 RBIs, 14 runs scored and nine walks.
Wei-Yin Chen has retired nine straight batters since Jose Altuve’s leadoff single in the first. He’s struck out four.
Do the Orioles retaliate?