The applause for Manny Machado today as he walked up to the plate in the first inning had a familiar sound to it. But also a slightly different feel.
Maybe it’s just imaginations at work with Machado likely to be traded later this month, but there seemed to be an air of farewell.
If Machado played his last game at Camden Yards as an Oriole, he punctuated it with a solo home run in the first in a 6-5 victory over the Rangers before an announced crowd of 18,754.
Machado’s 404-foot shot to left field, admired in the box with bat raised before he broke into his trot, was a small counterpunch to Ronald Guzmán’s grand slam off Miguel Castro in the top of the inning. But Machado continued to leave his mark in Baltimore.
For how much longer?
Machado will represent the Orioles in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in D.C. because a deal isn’t imminent, but one person familiar with negotiations said the process was “winding down.” Which means so, too, is Machado’s tenure in the organization.
The four-day break is followed by a three-game series in Toronto, and the Orioles don’t return to Camden Yards until July 23. The Dodgers, Phillies and Brewers lead the teams in pursuit of Machado, according to a source, and he could be gone before the next homestand.
Following a 26-minute rain delay, Jace Peterson came out on deck to bat for Machado with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning and Tim Beckham moved to shortstop in the top of the fifth. Eyebrows were raised high enough to part hair, but it was done as a precaution due to the wet infield.
I’m told that Machado is fine physically and he’s going to rep the Orioles at Nationals Park. No sense risking an injury today.
The so-called first half of the season - we’re past the halfway point in games played - leaves Machado with a .315 average, 24 home runs and 65 RBIs. He totaled only two plate appearances today, walking in the third inning, before manager Buck Showalter removed him.
Machado received his All-Star Game jersey before first pitch, giving fans another opportunity to cheer him. He scored twice today and watched from the dugout as the Orioles won their first home series since May 11-13 against the Rays and improved to 28-69 overall, 16-33 at home and 3-16 against the American League West.
They can rest on a two-game winning streak.
Both starters lasted only 2 2/3 innings, but who doesn’t enjoy a good bullpen game?
The Orioles sent 10 batters to the plate in the third while turning a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead. They moved ahead on Adam Jones’ three-run double off Rangers left-hander Mike Minor.
Joey Rickard led off with a walk and scored on Joseph’s double. Schoop singled with one out, Machado walked to load the bases and Jones cleared them. Jones raced home with two outs on a throwing error by third baseman Jurickson Profar.
Castro walked the first three batters he faced, struck out Rougned Odor and offered up three consecutive mid-90s splitters to Guzmán, who launched the third into the seats in right field. Castro threw 33 pitches in the inning.
Showalter motioned to his bullpen after Castro retired seven batters in a row following the slam, his pitch count at 60 in his second major league start. Pitching coach Roger McDowell visited the mound two batters into the game and Mike Wright Jr. began to warm after the third walk.
Left-hander Tanner Scott was the choice with two outs in the third and earned his first major league win after going two-thirds of an inning. Castro’s odd final line included one hit, four runs, three walks and two strikeouts.
Castro was averaging 5.2 walks per nine innings before today and lived down to his reputation against Shin-Soo Choo, Andrus and Profar. Guzmán’s slam was the first of his career.
Wright allowed only one run, on Choo’s leadoff home run in the seventh, in three innings. He didn’t walk a batter and lowered his ERA to 4.85.
Paul Fry tossed 1 2/3 hitless innings to solidify his spot in the bullpen and Britton recorded his second save in less than 24 hours, working back-to-back games for only the second time since his surgery.
Britton induced two ground balls to short, breaking a bat, and walked Choo with two outs to set up the dramatic finish.
The Orioles have been outscored 79-46 in the first inning this season, added to the list of reasons why they’ve got the worst record in baseball at the break.
It improved over the past two games, but there’s more interest in the increased odds that Machado is dealt before next week.
Note: Catcher Caleb Joseph notched his first career stolen base in the sixth inning after drawing a two-out walk.