In the second inning of Tuesday’s exhibition game, the Astros’ Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were hit by pitches in consecutive at-bats.
Dumb people on social media – judge for yourselves if that’s redundant – reacted as if the Royals, who lost 103 games last season, were somehow exacting vengeance on the Astros by throwing at them.
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That sort of unfounded speculation is likely to be a theme throughout this truncated 2020 season as fans are angry about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 season.
In this case, it’s obvious these hit by pitches came as the result of an ineffective Jorge Lopez, a Royals pitcher with 59 big league appearances who had a 6.33 ERA last season and is trying to stick in the majors.
First off, both at-bats came with the bases loaded.
Altuve got hit by a pitch with a full count, and the pitch barely glanced off Altuve’s forearm as he checked his swing. It was so close that Royals catcher Oscar Hernandez even seemed to question if the ball actually hit the bat with home plate umpire Todd Tichenor.
In Bregman’s at-bat, Lopez had him down with a 1-2 count before a breaking ball got loose and barely glanced off Bregman’s belt to bring home another run.
Both pitches were clearly accidental and obvious to anyone watching the game. It may not be as obvious to those who only read social media posts or try to conjure up theories by looking solely at a box score.
In the fifth inning, George Springer also was inadvertently hit by a pitch in the elbow by Royals prospect Jackson Kowar.
Altuve was removed from the game in the fourth inning with a left leg contusion when he fell down after crossing home plate and incidentally bumping Royals catcher Meibrys Valoria, causing him to trip and belly flop in the grass behind the plate. Altuve got up on his own but limped back to the dugout.