How many times can Manny Machado prove to the world, or at least baseball’s portion of it, that he isn’t distracted by all of the trade talk and the obsession over his pending free agency? He offers denials at his locker and in the batter’s box.
Machado collected three more hits tonight, including game-tying home runs in the bottom of the fifth and seventh and against a team that’s showing renewed interest in him.
His contribution in the game-winning rally in the ninth inning was an intentional walk from Dellin Betances with one out to load the bases. Mark Trumbo struck out, but Jonathan Schoop singled into right field to give the Orioles a 6-5 victory over the Yankees before an announced crowd of 18,418 at steamy Camden Yards.
Winners of two of their last three games, the Orioles are 26-66 overall, 14-30 at home and 5-4 against the Yankees.
Caleb Joseph was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Adam Jones doubled into the right field corner with one out. There’s no way that the Yankees were pitching to Machado, but his best friend on the team sent a sharp grounder off Greg Bird’s glove for the walk-off.
The results are becoming mere footnotes to the bigger story. When do the Orioles start their rebuild and how much longer before Machado is gone?
The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Brewers are viewed as the most serious suitors, but the Yankees also have inquired about Machado, according to a source, while also discussing starting pitching and relievers. And the Red Sox, in a predictable counter-move, checked in on the four-time All-Star. However, there’s nothing substantial at the moment, per a source.
The Red Sox are scouting closer Zach Britton and retain interest, according to sources. A package deal is a consideration among multiple teams. In the Red Sox’s case, they could just be kicking the trade tires on Machado as long as they’re following Britton, who had a scoreless ninth inning tonight that included two strikeouts and a big throw from Joseph to nab Didi Gregorius trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
Machado led off the fifth inning with his 22nd home run, driving the first pitch from Masahiro Tanaka into the left field seats to tie the game 3-3 and counter Bird’s three-run shot in the top half that briefly gave New York the lead. Machado was 5-for-29 lifetime against Tanaka before tonight, but he went 2-for-3, including a single in the first inning.
Miguel Castro let two inherited runners score in the top of the seventh, allowing the Yankees to take a 5-3 lead and sticking Andrew Cashner with five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. However, Jones singled off Chad Green with one out in the bottom half and Machado drove a ball to right field that struck the railing above the grounds crew shed and bounced onto the field.
Initially ruled a single, the call was changed upon review, and Machado had his fifth multi-homer game of the season and 19th of his career.
Machado joins Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx as the only players with at least four career multi-homer games against the Yankees by age 26, according to Stats by Stats.
Cashner was perfect for four innings and perturbed by the fifth, right after the Orioles took the lead but failed to inflate the cushion with one big swing.
Inching ahead just doesn’t work around here.
Cashner retired the first 13 batters and struck out five. Only one ball left the infield, when Brett Gardner led off the first with a fly ball to Trey Mancini.
The bid for perfection ended with Gregorius’ single to left field with one out in the fifth. Miguel Andújar walked after Joey Rickard appeared to make a diving catch in foul territory, but lost the ball and his glove. Bird saw two straight 96 mph fastballs and deposited the second onto the flag court in right field for a 3-2 lead.
Cashner retired the next two batters, striking out Neil Walker and pounding his fist into his glove while giving himself a quick scolding. Intensity and competitiveness are never lacking with Cashner.
Getting a win at home keeps eluding him.
Cashner was charged with five runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts. It was his second-longest outing of the season, after working seven innings on April 10 in Toronto.
A chance at a 10th quality start and sixth in seven games was gone after Gregorius doubled with one out in the seventh, Jones unable to make the diving catch. Andújar singled on Cashner’s 96th pitch, and Bird’s sacrifice fly on the first pitch from Castro gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Bird tied his career high with four RBIs.
Austin Romine walked with two outs - a continuing problem for Castro - and Neil Walker delivered an RBI single.
The Orioles nearly took a 1-0 lead in the second, with Schoop appearing to hit a leadoff home run before a crew-chief review awarded him a double. The ball struck the top of the fence and bounced back into play.
Schoop had his 15th hit in the last nine games, the 16th to follow, but not a run. He moved to third on Chris Davis’ grounder to the right side, but Mancini grounded to short and Rickard struck out.
Tanaka allowed at least one baserunner in each of the first four innings. Machado singled with two outs in the first and wasn’t traded while running up the line. Tim Beckham singled with one out in the third. Davis singled through the shift with two outs in the fourth, Mancini walked and Rickard pulled a slider between Andújar and the bag for a 2-0 lead.
Joseph reached on an error and Beckham walked to load the bases, but Jones fell behind 0-2 and struck out.
Machado on stepping up: “Just going out there knowing that I’ve prepared myself in the offseason, prepared myself during the year, prepare myself every time I come out here to go out there and perform at a high level. At the end of the day, once I step into those lines, I’m ready to go to war and win some games and do everything I can to leave it out on the field.”
Machado on whether it’s hard to block out distractions: “Not really. It’s a tough situation. You try to soak it in. People want you, teams want you. You try to soak it in, but at the same time you’ve just got to let it slide. Once that game starts or it gets close to game time, you want to prepare yourself and get mentally ready for the game. At the end of the day, I’m trying to go out there and leave it out on the field, do everything well, and play good baseball. This just happened to be one of those good days today overall.”
Machado on whether the attention brings more motivation: “No, there’s going to be eyes everywhere. People watch games. There’s a lot of fans out there that support us and still watch us. It’s just a matter of going out there and playing baseball.
“Like I said, once you step into those lines, you’ve got to go out there, and we’ve got to ride with the team that we have. Everyone in here knows that once we step on that line, we’re going to try to win games. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It’s just part of the game we love. “
Machado on whether he thinks about his final days here: “You know what? It crosses my mind, I’m not going to lie. But you just try to enjoy your moment, try to enjoy the season like I have since Day 1, since I stepped in here. Just try to take it all in. Nobody ever wants to think about that day.”
Machado on relishing this type of win: “Oh, definitely. Like I told a couple guys in here, I don’t remember the last time we had a walk-off. Hopefully, this builds. I know everyone in here loves those types of games. ... Hopefully, some people start getting hot. Little by little, people are getting better, people are getting underneath their legs, pitchers are feeling a lot more comfortable out there, the bullpen’s getting better. Hopefully, we keep it rolling.”
Machado on Schoop: “Awesome. He’s staying with his approach. Like I told him before, anyone can get out of it, you’ve just have to stay mentally strong and mentally prepared for this grind. Once you look up there at those numbers and you see .200 and they keep showing it and showing it and it keeps going down, it can take a toll on you.
“It’s just a matter of him coming out here working every day and staying with his approach. That’s what he’s been doing the last couple weeks. So, hopefully, he can get going and return to the All-Star-caliber player that he is.”
Schoop on whether he feels different now that he’s hot: “Yeah, of course. Things are going my way. The work that me and Scott (Coolbaugh) put in (helped) and everybody that helped me, and I keep believing in myself and going out there and compete, and try to compete and win. When things start going your way, you start to get comfortable and you start getting good pitches to hit and put good swings on them.”
Schoop on what he thought during last at-bat: “I was thinking a lot of things, because that guy’s tough. I was thinking, ‘Go in there and take a strike, let him throw a strike.’ But he’s tough. If you get a strike, he can strike you out with a fastball and his curveball. But I was willing to take a strike and put a ball in play. I hit a ball hard, and no matter where the ball goes, I hit it hard.”
Schoop on Machado: “Manny is Manny. That’s why he’s the shortstop All-Star. Manny’s going to do what Manny do. He’s really good. The pitchers, they’re scared to face him.”
Schoop on whether he thinks about no longer being Machado’s teammate: “I don’t want to think that. You hear the rumors, you hear the things, but I don’t want to think about it. I just want to go out there and enjoy what we can enjoy, and whatever happen, happens.”
Cashner on whether he had his best stuff: “Yeah, I thought I had a good feel for everything - fastball, changeup, curveball, slider.”
Cashner on why he had good stuff: “I don’t know. Anytime you play the Yankees you’ve got to step up, you know?”
Cashner on Machado stepping up: “I just think he’s a star player. I think you have these big moments and he always shows up and he shines. It’s impressive to watch. I’ve never seen a guy, every time you need a big hit he comes through, whether it’s a base hit, whether it’s a homer, whether it’s defense. It’s really impressive.”
Showalter on Cashner: “I think it all starts with Andrew. One of those outings. I thought he had about as good stuff and he’s had this year. Just had the one pitch. I thought Andrew was outstanding. Played a big part in that game.
“(Dellin) Betances carries good stuff every time out there, but that was pretty impressive to push a run across against him with the stuff he was carrying and the command he was carrying.”
Showalter on removing Cashner after 96 pitches: “I just thought, he was facing Bird and showed him about everything he had there. I thought we should have gotten out of that with one run, but tough lineup to pitch to. You go around it that much. But I know he wanted to stay in there, being the competitor he was. Just thought he had done everything he could do for us. We were hoping to get out of that.”
Showalter on Machado stepping up: “I didn’t think he quite got that other ball to right field. It’s been a remarkable season for him. You think about the challenges we faced as a team, but he’s just been as consistent as you could ask a guy to be. Believe me, he’s getting everybody’s best. You look out there on the velocity gun, guys that are throwing 92-93, you see the fastball is 94-95 to him.
“I remember we used to talk all the time about you see hanging breaking ball to Barry Bonds or to the really good hitters, and because there’s so much anxiety and they try to extra torque their best breaking balls, and they get around it and they don’t command it. But Manny gets a mistake and he’s not missing it. And he’s also stayed all over the field, too. That’s been impressive.
“Jon had a great at-bat. Jon’s really, it’s tough. Of course, Adam is trying to block out 100 and see if he can catch a chalk line.”
Showalter on Schoop’s hot streak after two-game benching: “Some of the challenges we’ve faced as a team have bothered him as much as anybody. Sometimes, you do those things just because you respect him and the players so much that sometimes they need that and you have to be that person to make that decision because they need that and they’ll never tell you. Chris will never tell you. They’re just not wound that way.
“Jon, I think, got his approach really consistent. He’s a good listener, almost to a fault. You have to be careful about it because he likes to listen to people try to help him.”
Showalter on whether he watches Machado and thinks it may be the last time: “Unless you know something I don’t, he’s playing tomorrow. I thought he had a great game at shortstop. He made some really nice plays at shortstop that he made look easy. I think if and when it happens, it’ll be something I’ll have a better reflection on. Right now, I think we’re excited about beating a real good team.”