The month of June got off to a scary start for Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz as he left Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros after being hit on the hand with a pitch.
Former Orioles starting pitcher Scott Feldman hit Cruz on the left hand with a fastball clocked at 87 miles per hour in the top of the third inning, causing the 33-year-old slugger to fall to the ground in pain. After being examined by head athletic trainer Richie Bancells, Cruz temporarily stayed in the game before manager Buck Showalter replaced him with Delmon Young in field in the bottom of the third.
A club official announced in the Minute Maid Park press box late during Sunday’s 9-4 win over the Astros that X-rays came back negative and Cruz is listed as day-to-day. The Orioles are off on Monday before beginning a three-game set with the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Tuesday night.
Cruz entered Sunday’s game leading the major leagues in home runs (20) and runs batted in (52) as he set a franchise record for RBIs through the month of May, eclipsing Chris Davis’ 50 from a year ago. He had a 12-game hitting streak entering Sunday and was 20-for-42 during the streak with eight homers, nine walks, six doubles, 15 RBI, and 14 runs scored, making his departure a scary development for the Orioles and their fan base.
The Orioles have been without starting catcher Matt Wieters for the last three weeks as he continues to recover from right elbow soreness, making Cruz’s exit on Sunday alarming for an offense already struggling more than expected so far in the 2014 season.