The usual question hung over the Baltimore Orioles going into yesterday afternoon’s game; was it Manny Machado‘s last game with the team? Ultimately we have no way of knowing. But one of these days it actually will be.
This series finale with Texas was a bullpen game for the Orioles. While Miguel Castro got the start, the plan was never for him to pitch long enough to qualify for the win. Especially seeing that he loaded the bases in the top of the first inning with nobody out, and then gave up a grand slam to Guzman. Castro’s line: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
But the O’s began the battle to come back almost immediately. Machado smacked a solo homer in the last of the first to cut the lead to 4-1. It’s tough to come back from a first inning grand slam, but the Orioles found a way. They cut the lead to 4-2 two innings later on Caleb Joseph‘s RBI-double.
But that third inning was the key one for the Orioles. Perhaps it’ll go on to represent the moment when things changed for the team this year for all we know. Probably not in terms of being in contention, however more so for respectability. The O’s have picked up one run here and there over the course of the season throughout games. Finally, it seems they found a way to achieve a big inning.
In the wake of that Joseph RBI-double, the O’s loaded the bases for Adam Jones. And he delivered as he has for most of his career with the Birds, swinging at the first pitch and smacking a bases-clearing double down the left field line. That gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead, and it was extended to 6-4 when Jones scored later in the inning due to a throwing error.
Texas’ Choo would hit a solo homer in the eighth, cutting the lead to 6-5. They would also have the tying run on first base in the ninth inning, when Andrus hit a double into the right field corner. It was the type of thing that’s happened to the O’s all season long; an opponent placed the ball just perfectly on the field whereby the tying run was going to be able to come into score with two outs in the ninth inning. It was about to be yet another disappointment for the Orioles late in the game…
…before it wasn’t. Schoop relayed the ball home after Trumbo dug it out of the corner, and nailed the runner at the plate. And it wasn’t even close. And the Orioles won the game, closing out a disappointing first half with a two-game winning streak and by taking two-of-three from Texas.
The real interesting part of the day however came in the middle of the fourth inning when the game was halted by a passing rain shower. The teams sat through a short 26-minute rain delay. When play resumed, Jace Peterson was in the on-deck circle to bat for Manny Machado. While there were no shots of Machado bidding farewell to his teammates or anything along those lines (he sat in the dugout wearing an Orioles sweatshirt), questions circulated around the ballpark.
To their credit, the Orioles dispelled rumors almost immediately by alerting the media that Machado had been lifted as a precautionary measure due to a messy infield. They also said that he would be representing the Orioles at Tuesday’s all-star game in Washington D.C. So he won’t be traded before then, in other words.
I tweeted at the time that it’s pointless to speculate, as the Orioles will release a statement whenever he’s traded. However I will say this; I see it as very possible that the finishing touches on a deal are being made with a suitor. Now that’s only my personal opinion, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s playing elsewhere on Friday when the season resumes. And his own comments after the game sounded somewhat like a guy who knew he was on his way out (quote courtesy of Brittany Ghiroli, mlb.com):
Just looking back at everything that’s happened this year, trade rumors, everything, just overall playing with this team has always been incredible. Whether we’ve had our ups and downs this year, it is what it is. Me putting up the numbers I did at shortstop, where people didn’t think I should have made the move in my walk year, but I did. I’m going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It’s just always a blessing. I thank God, I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization, I mean, it’s just been very incredible.
The bit about shortstop was interesting there as well. Almost as if he was reminding his future team that he’s a shortstop. Nevertheless, this was a good team win for the Orioles, and exactly what they needed going into the break. So that’s that – until Friday night.