Throughout baseball, there has been a wave of pitchers hitting batters, sparking tension in many dugouts. But Cruz said he didn’t believe Feldman hit him intentionally. Cruz and Feldman were longtime teammates with the Rangers, and their playing time together dates back to Triple-A in 2007.
“I don't think so,” Cruz said. “Maybe he tried to go in. I know the catcher went and talked to him before I got hit, so I was maybe thinking they tried to pitch me around something. So I couldn't tell. I don't think so.”
Feldman, who is known to work batters inside and leads the AL with eight hit batters, said he checked on his former teammate after the game.
“I didn't want to hit him,” Feldman said.”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.”
Lough, who was hitless in his previous 11 at-bats before Sunday, put the Orioles up, 2-0, with his first homer of the season in the second inning, a two-run shot over the right-field fence that came with two outs.
“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.”
With a 3-1 lead, the Orioles (28-27) opened the sixth inning with four straight singles, the last one by Lough to drive in a run.
After catcher Nick Hundley’s sacrifice fly knocked in another run, the Astros (24-34) intentionally walked Nick Markakis to load the bases and bring Machado up to the plate.
Machado hit the grand slam against Feldman (3-3), the former Orioles right-hander who signed a three-year, $30 million deal with Houston in the offseason. It was the Orioles’ second grand slam this season. Cruz hit one April 23 in Toronto.
Given the way the series started, with the Orioles frustrated that they couldn’t score more runs and capitalize on strong pitching performances, they were able to reverse their fortunes over the final two games.
“They came out and got us the first two days,” Machado said. “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.”