Baltimore Orioles: Mucho magic from Manny Machado

You’d be hard-pressed to suggest that Manny Machado didn’t figure prominently into the end result in last night’s Baltimore Orioles game. When you smack two homers and score the go-ahead run, you were kind of important to your team. This is the same Machado that some members of the fan base would just as soon trade today, right? Just checking.

Chris Tillman struggled in his start, prompting some (including myself) to wonder if he’s truly healthy. Tillman’s line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 0 K. Tillman had trouble finding the strike zone overall, but he threw multiple pitches back towards the backstop. I have to believe that if he was having a physical problem he would say something. But based on results and what we saw last night it’s worth wondering if he’s truly healthy

Tillman gave up a two-run homer to Encarnacion in the first inning which gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead. Now to his credit he did settle down a bit in the second and regain some composure. However for most of his outing he was just a little on the wild side, and that’s concerning.

Manny Machado’s first home run came in the last of the first. It was only a solo shot, however it cut the Cleveland lead in half at 2-1. One inning later the Orioles had tied the game, as Jonathan Schoop smacked a solo shot of his own. Regardless of how much Tillman may have struggled, needless to say this was going to be no 12-0 rout.

Cleveland punched themselves back into the lead in the fourth on an RBI-single by Jackson. Later in the inning Lidor would add a two-RBI double, and the Birds trailed by three at 5-2. As a team, Cleveland refuses to give in at the plate. They foul off pitch after pitch. And that’s a problem that the Orioles have had in general with teams doing that. My theory is that Oriole pitchers are trying too hard to nibble, which is inducing guys to protect the plate.

The good news for the Orioles is that with their offense they’re never out of it. Machado smacked his second home run of the night in the last of the fifth, this one of the three-run variety. With one swing of the bat, the game was tied. And Tillman was off the hook for the loss.

However perhaps the key moment of the game was the top of the seventh when Blier loaded the bases with one out. The Orioles’ situation appeared tenuous at best. But Showalter went to Miguel Castro out of the bullpen, who struck out Gomes and induced Zimmer to ground out – which ended the inning. Castro did a heck of a job, preserved the tie, and allowed the O’s to remain in a position to move forward in the game.

Machado’s next at-bat came in the seventh, and he sent a high drive the other way to right field. He seemed to go into his home run trot, but the ball bounced off the wall and he ended up with a double. Could it have been a triple had Machado run harder? Probably. Hopefully for his sake, lesson learned.

Luckily for Machado and the Orioles it was a moot issue. Jones smacked an RBI-double, and the Orioles took a 6-5 lead. Cleveland would threaten in the ninth, but the O’s closed the door and evened the series at two with a 6-5 victory over Cleveland.

What happens with Tillman moving forward is beyond me. I don’t see them removing him from the rotation, however as I said I do question his health situation. This game was also the first big league victory in the career of Miguel Castro, who was the pitcher of record when the Orioles broke the tie. And after what he did in the seventh, it was well-deserved.

The series continues this evening at Camden Yards. Kevin Gausman will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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