Manny Machado has made several big plays and delivered a few big hits since he joined the Orioles from Double-A Bowie. Tonight he produced one of his biggest when his solo homer to left led off the last of the seventh, broke a tie and carried the Orioles to a 4-3 win over Boston and back into a first-place tie with New York.
"I was just looking for a fastball," Machado said of his at-bat versus Felix Doubront. "He threw me a two-seamer away, trying to get that corner. So far, that is the biggest home run I've hit playing pro ball."
Not a bad way to honor Brooks Robinson on the day he had his statue unveiled at Camden Yards.
"To do it on his night felt great," Machado said after his two-RBI game.
"When they tied the game our fans were still in the game. That picked us up to go into our at-bats to try and do something good. We're still relaxed. Nothing is set in stone yet. We are still out to win this division."
The Orioles reduced their magic number to clinch a playoff berth to two and they could possibly clinch tomorrow in the last regular season home game.
"Of course it is always better to clinch in front of your home crowd. But we have to go out, not try to do too much and play the game we've been playing all season," Machado said.
Manny, by the way, now 6-for-11 over his last three games with three homers and six RBIs. This was his fifth multi-RBI game.
Steve Johnson didn't leave Camden Yards with a win tonight, but he is leaving the building wearing a walking boot on his right foot. He took a shot off that foot off the bat of Dustin Pedroia in the top of the fourth.
"It hit it square. It doesn't feel good right now, but it's just bruised pretty bad. We'll ice it the next couple of days and it will feel better," he said.
"It kind of threw me out of my groove a little bit. I just tried to do my best after that. I was in a pretty good groove and it kind of threw me out of it."
It wasn't long after that, just two batters into the next inning, when he gave up a two-run homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. It ended a run of 20 1/3 scoreless innings for Johnson over his past seven games.
"Just going out there and trying to get outs," he said. "Just happened that I didn't give up a few runs there. And these guys were making a lot of plays behind me. It was pretty awesome."
So was the atmosphere here tonight.
"Great. Brooks' night and he's Mr. Oriole. The ovations everyone was getting each inning, good to play in front of," Johnson said.
One of those defensive plays he talked about was made by first baseman Mark Reynolds in the top of the fifth when he went spiraling over the tarp on the first base side to catch a foul pop.
"I ran over and gave it a look. When it was coming down it started coming back toward the field. I was waiting for Wieters to tell me if I was going to hit the tarp but he wasn't there. Just stuck my glove out and was able to catch it."
Reynolds was asked about the Orioles catching the Yankees with four games to play.
"It's coming down to the end and that is what we play for. We're here having fun, believing we can win every game. Got a bunch of no name guys here just having a good time. We're playing with house money and we're going to run with it and see where we go.
"We knew the Yankees lost earlier and we had a chance to tie tonight. That line drive Manny hit, I don't know how it got out. He plays like he's been here before. Like Buck says, sum of the parts. We're having fun.
"We want to win the division. It takes away that play in game where anything can happen. We want to be in that five-game series, but if we're in the play-in (wild card) game, we'll have fun and leave it on the field," he said.
What about the O's chance to clinch tomorrow?
"It would be huge," he said. "We can't clinch the division, which is our ultimate goal. But if we get in, it would be big to do it in front of our home crowd. It would be awesome to celebrate here with our fans."