The Cubs beat the Astros 2-1 (box score) on Wednesday, but the game took a sobering turn in the fourth inning when Chicago center fielder Albert Almora hit a rocket foul ball off Houston starter Wade Miley down the left-field line in foul territory. Immediately, the scene was scary. Almora yelled something twice in seeming agony and then crouched to the ground. The broadcast didn't show the scene in the crowd, but the faces of all the players it was showing -- namely Javier Baez and Alex Bregman standing next to each other with overly concerned looks -- said it all: A fan had been struck.
As it turns out, those at the game say it was a very young child. There's an available wire photo of the child crying while being carried quickly up the stairs and we're talking about toddler size.
The Astros have released the following statement:
The young fan that was struck by a foul ball during tonight's game was taken to the hospital. We are not able to disclose any further details at this time. The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family.
MLB issued its own statement Thursday, calling the incident "extremely upsetting."
For what it's worth, SportsTalk 790 in Houston reports that the child is "awake, responsive" and the hospital trip is for "precautionary" reasons.
Hopefully that turns out to be accurate and nothing changes moving forward.
With any official word from the team or family, we'll continue to update this matter.
Every MLB team has extended the protective netting, so this either went just beyond the net or there was somehow a mishap.
For his part, Almora was pretty broken up.
After the next half-inning, Almora ran in from center field and was caught on camera hugging a security guard and crying from right in the area where the child was struck. He buried his face in his glove as he walked away with Heyward while it looked like Baez was trying to gather more information.
After the game, he's still moved to emotions:
Almora got emotional while recalling the moment when the foul ball he hit struck a young fan. He said he looked over and instantly saw the girl get hit. Still no official word on how she is, but he said he hopes to have a relationship w/ her & her family for the rest of his life.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 30, 2019
"That's part of what sucks, Almora said after the game in the clubhouse. "That's the way life is. As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her. All my teammates, Joe [Maddon], everybody came out to see. Tried to talk to me and obviously I didn't want that to happen and didn't intend for that to happen.
"Credit to [Astros starter Wade] Miley as well. He came to me as well, tried to calm me down. The rest was kind of a blur, the rest of that at-bat. I finally kind of came to my senses after the next half-inning when I went over to the stands. It was just unofficial updates. Something to ... I just couldn't hold it anymore. I had to try to keep my composure during that at-bat, but when the half-inning was over, I just couldn't hold it anymore."
When asked about what the security guard told him, here's what Almora had to say:
"Like, I said, just unofficial things that I wish I could say. I wish I could say more," Almora said. "I don't know where, trust me, I'll be the first to know. Right now I'm just praying and I'm speechless and I'm at a loss of words. Being a father of two boys."