HOUSTON - Former Orioles pitcher Scott Feldman said he didn’t intend to hit ex-teammate Nelson Cruz during today’s game at Minute Maid Park.
Feldman nailed Cruz on the left hand in the third inning of the Orioles’ 9-4 victory over the Astros. X-rays taken on Cruz’s hand came back negative and he’s day to day with a bruise and swelling.
“I didn’t want to hit him,” Feldman said. “I checked after the game to make sure he was all right and they said it was just a bruise, so that was a little relieving. It happens. It’s part of the game trying to pitch inside. He’s been swinging the bat well. Obviously I didn’t want to give him a free base, but I didn’t want to let him go up there and hit one off the wall, either.”
The Orioles would prefer that Cruz not be hit.
“It was frightening,” said David Lough. “He’s a huge part of our team and obviously he knows what he’s doing to help our team. We need him out there every day. It’s good we have the off-day tomorrow and I think the X-rays came back negative, and hopefully we can get him back in the lineup.”
“You don’t want anybody to go down like that,” said Manny Machado, “especially when he was hit by a pitch, especially with a lot of things that are going on here. Hopefully, everything’s OK and he’ll be back in the lineup.”
Machado broke open the game with his first career grand slam, perhaps another sign that his timing is coming back.
“Not 100 percent, but I feel much (more) comfortable in there,” he said. “It was overall a good day. The pitching staff threw well. We’re finally getting some hits when we need to. Things are coming into place.”
Maybe this is a turning point for Machado, who missed the first month of the season and was in a 1-for-19 slump before collecting two infield hits yesterday.
“I hope so. I really hope so,” he said. “Today was a good day at the plate. Felt good, and my legs are finally gettinh under me. Feel like I can continue that.”
Lough’s first home run as an Oriole gave them a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
“It was good for the team and for me,” Lough said. “I’ve been struggling at the plate, obviously, and when I hit it, I knew it had a good chance of getting out of here and putting us up 2-0 and getting us going for our offense today. It was good and we got the W.
“Hopefully, I can get it going offensively. Defensively, I wasn’t too thrilled with my play today. I thought I gave up a couple of runs in right field. That’s something I need to work on. A lot more early work to get prepared for right field. I haven’t played there yet this year and it’s something that you have to keep track of at all times. I’ll get it down.”
Today’s outcome allowed the Orioles to split the four-game series after dropping the first two.
“It’s definitely huge,” Lough said. “It seemed like we were struggling offensively for sure and our pitchers were going pretty long in games and helping us stay in games, but we just couldn’t provide that offense. It was good to get those two wins and head out of here on a high note.”
“It’s huge,” Machado said. “They came out and got us the first two days. We just tried to take it day by day and bounce back from it, and obviously we did. We came back the next day and hit the ball well. Pitching staff did well and we continued that. That’s something that we needed. We needed some momentum going into Texas.”
Wei-Yin Chen is the first six-game winner on the staff after holding the Astros to one run over 5 1/3 innings.
“I actually felt much better than my previous two outings. So, overall it was a good outing,” Chen said through his interpreter.
“I was happy about the result. Our team played good defense behind me and scored a lot of runs. That’s why I get those six wins.”
Chen wasn’t happy about coming out of the game after 97 pitches.
“When Buck (Showalter) went up there and talked to me, I didn’t totally understand what he said,” Chen said. “For me, pitching on four or five days rest isn’t a problem. What I need to do is do my job and be ready to pitch.
“I felt good out there and I was kind of hoping I could go deeper in the game.”
Showalter decided to provide some rest for Chen with an eight-run lead and the left-hander starting again Friday in Arlington. He also wanted to use relievers Brad Brach, Preston Guilmet and Brian Matusz.
“I wanted to shorten him up a little bit because I’m going to bring him back on normal rest, and we got an opportunity there between 95 and 105, is usually where he is. And I had three guys that I needed to get work today with the off-day and we were fortunate to do that,” Showalter said.
Asked about Machado’s grand slam, Showalter replied, “Manny’s good. He built on some of the good fortune he had yesterday. That was a big blow of the game.
“I thought (Nick) Hundley’s sac fly was a big at-bat because he had struggled his last at-bat against (Feldman) and I know he was frustrated with it.
“I think we caught Scott Feldman on a little lesser day, but we’ll take it. We strung together some good at-bats.
“I think the off-day is coming at a right time. It’s been a long time. We finally got into June and if we get through this road trip, at least we’ll be playing some games at home now and then. We’ll have to reintroduce ourselves to our families.”