Normally, a blowout win against the New York Yankees is celebrated with abandon at Camden Yards. Add in that Monday’s 11-3 victory separated the Orioles and the Yankees even further in the American League East race and that one of the offensive heroes was beleaguered slugger Chris Davis, and you’d have almost the perfect scenario for Orioles fans.
Except that that feel-good vibe took a hard tumble in the third inning when 22-year-old third baseman Manny Machado collapsed in the batter’s box after a swing and had to be helped off the field. The initial diagnosis was a sprained right knee -- he injured his other knee last September -- and initial X-rays were negative. But the club will have a better idea of the severity of the injury after Machado undergoes a MRI at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“We will know more [Tuesday] about what’s wrong with it,” Machado said. “Wait for the MRI and that will give us an idea of how long or how many days I’m going to be out. That’s what’s going to tell us what’s going on.”
After the game, Machado said the knee was “a little sore. Sore feeling. Just keep icing it and hopefully it’s nothing too bad, that’s what we are praying for.” He walked slowly over to the media throng Monday night while a set of crutches leaned against his locker.
“Precautionary. I hate crutches. I thought I put those down a long time ago,” he said. “I don’t want to use them. I feel not too bad to use them, but I’m going to use them to stay off my feet. We’ll see where it goes.”
The injury potentially could be devastating for the first-place Orioles, who have played the past two games without shortstop J.J. Hardy. He is dealing with a sprained left thumb.
“We're not going to get caught up in that gloom and doom and the sky is falling,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Hopefully, we don't have to DL [Machado] and he's back in a few days. Who knows? That's the way I look at it. Same way with J.J. Maybe he comes in tomorrow and ready to go.”
Still, given the current uncertainty regarding the left side of their infield, the Orioles likely will have to summon a player from Triple-A Norfolk -- perhaps Steve Lombardozzi -- in case there is a need Tuesday.
“It’s certainly something we're considering. I was looking at it in the dugout,” Showalter said. “We actually looked at it before the game because we had a similar subject matter where J.J. was concerned if we had to go there.”
Machado’s situation dampened an otherwise explosive night for the Orioles (68-50), who moved to seven games ahead of the third-place Yankees (61-57) in the AL East. The Orioles lead the division by six games over the Toronto Blue Jays, who were routed, 11-1, by the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
Playing in an intermittent drizzle before an announced 34,018, the Orioles rebounded from Machado’s injury with three homers, including two-run shots by Davis and Nelson Cruz and a three-run laser from rookie Jonathan Schoop.
“That’s what we’ve been doing, swinging the bats, and I’m glad that we didn’t go out there with their heads down and their eyes down. They kept fighting,” Machado said. “That’s why we have each other’s backs here. They’re going to keep picking me up, and they’re going to pick up everybody on this team.”
Davis, who entered the night hitting .193 on the season, was initially on the bench against left-hander Chris Capuano (1-3). He was summoned in the top of the fourth to play third base -- he has started there just twice this season. In the fifth, in his first at-bat replacing Machado, Davis slugged a full-count slider to right for a 4-3 lead. It was his 21st home run of the season.
The Orioles tacked on three runs in the seventh against reliever Adam Warren on an RBI double by Adam Jones and Cruz’s 31st homer of the season. Schoop’s 10th home run of the season, and his first at home this year, came against Chase Whitley in the eighth. David Lough added a RBI single against Whitley to cap the club’s 14-hit attack. The Orioles now have 150 homers in 118 games.
“I'm very happy. I started laughing because that was my first one [at Camden Yards],” Schoop said. “I was saying like 'when, when am I going to get one here?' The fans want to see me get one.”
This one will be remembered for more than just an offensive barrage against the Bronx Bombers.
With one on and one out in the bottom of the third, Machado swung at a sinker from Capuano and hit a broken-bat groundout to shortstop Derek Jeter. Machado never left the batter’s box.
As Machado swung, he appeared to hyperextend his back leg and he immediately collapsed and grabbed his right knee. Showalter and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells rushed to his aid.
“First thing that goes through your mind is bad thoughts,” Machado said. “But you know it’s part of the game, it’s stuff that happens. Things you can’t control. Life is full of things you can’t control, but we are looking at the bright side of it."
It was the second time in less than a calendar year that Machado has writhed on the ground in pain while holding his knee. Machado tore the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee last Sept. 23 while running to first base in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. It required surgery and caused Machado to miss the first month of this season.
Machado had to be carted off the field after last year’s injury. On Monday, he didn’t need a cart, but he didn’t put any weight on his right leg as he slowly headed to the dugout with one arm around Showalter and the other around Bancells.
“Your heart kind of goes in your stomach when you see something like that. He’s not on our team, but he’s one of the bright young players in all of the major leagues,” Yankees third baseman Chase Headley said. “I hate to see it happen to anybody; I hate to see it happen to him again. Hopefully it’s not as bad as what it could be.”
The Orioles scored their second run directly after Machado left the game. Jones singled to left field, scoring Schoop from second base to make it 3-2. Machado had given the Orioles their first run when he doubled in the first inning, moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on Cruz’s sacrifice fly.
Bud Norris (10-7) immediately put the Orioles in a hole when Brett Gardner led off the game with a triple to left-center field. Jeter followed with a weak chopper to the left side that was too slow for Machado to do anything but throw to first for the sure out. Gardner scored to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
In the second, the Orioles channeled their inner confused Little Leaguer for a disaster of a play that allowed the Yankees to score twice without hitting the ball.
Carlos Beltran led off with a single and moved to third base on Headley’s single. With one out in the inning and Martin Prado at the plate, Caleb Joseph caught the third pitch of Prado’s at-bat and threw to second to stop Headley from stealing.
Headley headed back to first and got stuck in a rundown. As Beltran ventured several feet off third, Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce threw to Machado, who then rifled a throw home as Beltran dashed toward the plate.
Machado’s throw hit Beltran’s helmet and caromed away as Beltran collided with Joseph. Beltran went back to touch the plate while Norris retrieved the errant ball a few steps from the Orioles’ on-deck circle. Norris then attempted an underhand flip to Joseph -- instead of holding onto it -- and the ball rolled away to the third base side of foul territory. Machado barehanded and attempted to throw to Norris at the plate, but Headley raced home for the 3-1 lead.
“Because of the new rule [regarding not blocking home plate], Caleb got anchored in there and straddled the plate,” Showalter said. “You've got to get up the first-base line and give Manny a throwing lane. [Beltran’s] out if we get a throwing lane.”
Norris, who has won seven of his last nine decisions, lasted just five innings, giving up three earned runs, five hits and a walk while striking out five. He threw 108 pitches, the most he has thrown in an outing this year that didn’t last at least six innings. But he still notched the victory thanks to a robust offensive effort and four Orioles relievers, who combined to shut out the Yankees for four innings.
"The team picked me up, bullpen picked me up,” Norris said. “And these guys swinging the bats was fun to watch.”
What wasn’t, though, was the Orioles young third baseman on the ground again.
"I think it was a scare for all of us. We didn't like seeing it in Tampa last year and obviously that was pretty frightening here today,” Norris said. “Obviously, we want him out there with us, but we want him out there when he's 100 percent and he can play the caliber of baseball he can play.”
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