As I’ve said in the past, fluky things seem to happen when the Baltimore Orioles play Tampa (especially at Tropicana Field). And when I say fluky, I mean just absolute bizzare things occur, most of which come at the Orioles’ detriment. That was never on display moreso than in yesterday’s 5-4 walk off loss. However it’s not the “loss” of the game that has the Orioles and Orioles fans worried, it’s the potential loss of Manny Machado. We’ve all seen the video by now; Machado twisted his knee legging out an infield single, collapsed and screamed loudly in pain, and was carted off the field. Machado did return to Baltimore on the team charter last night with his teammates, and is scheduled for an MRI today.
Starter Wei-Yin Chen was unable to go deep into the game, however I suspect that Buck Showalter yanked him more so due to playing situational baseball than anything else. Chen’s line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K. The Birds struck in the fourth with Tampa leading 1-0. With Machado on first Chris Davis gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead with his 52nd home run of the season. Later in the inning J.J. Hardy‘s RBI-single gave the O’s a 3-1 lead, scoring Nick Markakis from second. Again, fluky things happen at Tropicana Field, where the home team’s attitude is anything you can do I can do better. Tampa salvaged a run in the last of the fourth on an RBI-double by Molina, who’s killed the Orioles all season. But the Birds were still in the mood to hang with Tampa, as Brian Roberts led off the fifth with a homer to stretch the Orioles’ lead to 4-2.
I’ll get back to the Machado injury in a moment, however the O’s had a shot at an insurance run in that fateful 7th inning. With Alexi Casilla on second Nick Markakis singled to left field, and Casilla was waved home. Molina blocked the plate, allowing Casilla’s hand to get to about a centimeter away from touching the dish. Give the Orioles credit for trying, however that’s indicative of how the entire series went for these O’s. I would submit that all but Saturday’s game were winnable, however literally every bounce went Tampa’s way. Tampa tied the score at four with a Will Myers two-RBI single in the last of the fifth (more on that later as well), and won it in the last of the 9th with a James Loney pinch-hit walk off home run.
Obviously the big concern is Machado. Along with Adam Jones, he’s probably the face of the team, and a player that they can’t afford to lose. And I’m not talking about this year, because with the Orioles’ elimination number at two they’d need to win out and get a lot of help to make the post season. (And it seems that all of the luck in the world has been taken by Tampa over the weekend, so it’s almost pointless to discuss.) I’m referring more to next season; as I said, Machado is going to have an MRI tomorrow. According to Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com, Buck Showalter’s already been given a preliminary prognosis, however he’s not saying anything more until Machado’s MRI has been done.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to be; however one of the first things I thought of when I saw the play was Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III being hurt back in January. Machado’s knee buckled inward when he touched first base, similar to the way Griffin’s knee buckled in that NFL playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Again, I’ll take my cues from Showalter and not speculate on what the prognosis could be, however Orioles fans should probably prepare themselves for the probability that Machado isn’t the starting third baseman for the club next year on Opening Day. This is something that’s going to be an ongoing story for the Orioles as we progress into the off season, and we’ll publish an update here on Birds Watcher as soon as we get one.
To further this story (and this theme of fluky things happening in Tampa), the aforementioned Myers two-RBI single cost the Orioles Alexi Casilla’s services. Casilla went out to shallow left to catch the lazy pop fly, and his head collided with Nick Markakis’ thigh. Casilla actually caught the ball, however the ground caused it to pop out. (In the NFL that’s a catch since the ground can’t cause a fumble, but in baseball it’s a hit.) Casilla stayed in the game, but was later removed and actually stayed in the Tampa area for further treatment (concussion-related). The kicker on this: Casilla pinch-ran for Machado after his injury. So if you’re keeping score at home, Manny Machado was carted off the field on a stretcher and could be gone for a long time, and the guy who ran for him was also hurt later in the game. Fluky things happen when the Orioles play Ta – you get the idea.