When Manny Machado struck out looking for the first out of the seventh inning Tuesday, it looked like there would be at least some positive to take away from the at-bat, as Nick Markakis beat Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s throw into second base.
Trailing 7-4, perhaps Markakis in scoring position could ignite another late-inning Orioles rally or at least cut the deficit a little more.
But any sense of momentum quickly vanished from Camden Yards, as home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth called Markakis out at second as a result of batter’s interference. Machado thought he had walked and stepped to cross home plate, and Pierzynski’s follow-through hit Machado. Instead of one out and a man in scoring position, the Orioles had bases empty with two outs.
“It’s a tough call, it could have gone either way,” Machado said. “I honestly thought it was a ball so I took a step and I was about to toss my bat. If I would have tossed my bat I would have hit him right in the shin. He came up to me, and he did what he needed to do as a catcher, and the umpire called it.”
Manager Buck Showalter exited the dugout to argue with Culbreth while boos rained down from the Orioles’ fans, but it was to no avail.
“Certain catchers who have been around a while understand that if you don't have a play at second, you invite some contact,” Showalter said. “It's one of those things. [He] got the call right by the way it's designed. That certainly didn't beat us.”
Before Tuesday’s game, Showalter talked about Machado’s ability to work through failure and how umpiring impacted the 21-year-old’s approach at the plate.
“If I thought it was like it used to be where umpires would test rookies, I would be a lot more paranoid about it,” Showalter said. “There’s a difference between being paranoid and alert. I’m very protective of guys like Manny. He’s really been tested with a lot of strike calls. Let’s put it that way. It’s been very frustrating for him. And I go back and look at it because I try to see if guys have validity in their argument a lot, and he does.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun