Orioles have double vision, Hardy continues All-Star campaign (updated)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore introduced his 91 mph fastball to Manny Machado’s right knee in the first inning today, sending the Orioles’ third baseman sprawling to the dirt.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy let everyone know that Machado’s knee was fine.

Hardy doubled over the head of Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings, and Machado scored all the way from first base to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

Hardy scored on Adam Jones’ double, which continued an early theme to this game.

Back-to-back extra-base hits from a team that totaled one over the first two games of the series, along with only one run. And the Orioles weren’t done.

The Orioles collected three more doubles in the second inning and scored three runs to take a 5-0 lead.

Danny Valencia led off with a double, took third on Steve Pearce’s single and scored on Alexi Casilla’s sacrifice fly. Casilla has four RBIs with the Orioles.

Machado lined a double to right field with Pearce running on the pitch to increase the lead to 4-0, and Hardy followed with his second double and 39th RBI of the season.

Machado was slow to get up after being hit, and he walked carefully to first base with manager Buck Showalter on one side and assistant athletic trainer Brian Ebel on the other side.

Hardy put Machado to the test right away with the first double. He’s now batting .341 in his last 33 games, with 10 doubles, 10 homers, 24 RBIs, 18 runs scored and 14 multi-hit games.

Hardy found out yesterday that he’s leading American League shortstops in All-Star votes with 1,231,843, passing the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus, who’s second with 1,045,885.

“It just says that the fans are out there voting, people out in Baltimore,” Hardy said. “Maybe my Dad’s sitting at his computer at home. I don’t know. But it says people are voting.”

Hardy was sitting in the Orioles’ dugout yesterday watching the Martina McBride concert at Tropicana Field when he received a text from Orioles director of public relations Monica Barlow.

“It was cool. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. Like I said, it means a lot,” he said.

Jones has received the most votes among AL outfielders with 1,944,450, and first baseman Chris Davis has received the second-highest number of votes in the AL with 2,084,274. Machado and catcher Matt Wieters are second at their respective positions, and Nick Markakis is fourth among outfielders.

“It just says a lot for the team,” Hardy said. “There are a lot of guys having really good years and it helps everyone else. When everyone else is having good years, it helps other guys on the team. It’s nice that people are noticing.

“I think a lot of it was last year. The fact we’re right in it again this year. Winning helps a lot. People start to notice when you win.”

Hardy is attempting to become just the third Orioles shortstop to earn a fan-elected start, joining Cal Ripken Jr. (12 times, 1984-87, 89-96) and Miguel Tejada (2005). He’s also attempting to become the first AL shortstop other than the Yankees’ Derek Jeter to earn a fan-elected starting nod since Tejada.

“He’s still in the mix, isn’t he?” Hardy said, grinning. “We’ll see. He’s still in the mix. There’s a lot of factors that go into it, but I’m definitely excited about it and I hope they keep voting.”

The Rays scored a run off Chris Tillman in the bottom of the second inning on Evan Longoria’s leadoff double, a ground ball and Desmond Jennings’ infield hit. Wieters threw out Jennings trying to steal, with Casilla reaching across the bag for the ball, spinning and applying the tag. It was impressive.

Wieters doubled with one out in the third inning, giving the Orioles six.

Update: The Orioles scored three more runs in the third to lead 8-1.

Pearce had an RBI single - his second single of the day and a clear indication that he didn’t receive the doubles memo - and Casilla followed with an RBI single. Valencia, who walked, scored when the throw from left fielder Kelly Johnson skipped through catcher Jose Molina’s legs. Moore was slow to back up. Fans were quick to boo.

Nick Markakis lifted a sacrifice fly, and Machado was robbed of an extra-base hit on a diving catch by Matt Joyce along the right field line.

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