NEW YORK — If the Orioles were trying to make a statement in Tuesday's All-Star Game that they deserve to be on the big stage, that they should be considered one of the sport's potential headliners, the moment they were seeking may have come in the seventh inning when Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt hit a bouncer down the third-base line.
Orioles wunderkind Manny Machado had to backhand a tricky hop and then, from the edge of the outfield grass with his back foot in foul territory, Machado unleashed a bullet to stretching first baseman Prince Fielder to just nab Goldschmidt.
The soldout crowd at Citi Field cheered and the press box buzzed with a "did you see that?" vibe.
In the visiting dugout, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy nonchalantly turned to see the reaction of his American League teammates.
"I don't know how many people I saw saying, 'Wow.' And I turned around and told the guys, 'Ah, that's routine for him,'" Hardy said. "So I let them all know that that was nothing that special."
Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman nearly yawned in the bullpen when Machado made the stab and throw.
"I told [the other pitchers], 'That's Everyday Manny right there,'" Tillman said. "He'll make that play every single day."
First baseman Chris Davis took it another step — he ribbed his 21-year-old teammate for making Fielder work at first base.
"I wasn't impressed," Davis said. "He didn't hit [Fielder] in the chest. And I told him that."
But Machado took the blasé reaction from his Oriole teammates — and Davis in particular — in stride.
"That's what he's saying," Machado said, chuckling about Davis' admonishment. "That's what he has to say."
That's part of the deal with this Orioles team. As manager Buck Showalter likes to say, this club doesn't take itself too seriously.
Amid all the postgame fanfare and media frenzy Tuesday night, center fielder Adam Jones was yelling at Hardy — telling the shortstop that the stocky Fielder could beat him in a foot race and suggesting that it took Hardy 4.38 seconds, a good 40-yard dash time, to sprint the 90 feet to first base in the fifth.
Despite the chop-busting, the third-place team in the AL East that had five All-Stars and three starters for the first time since 1997 seemed to hold its own in the spotlight.
"I thought we represented Baltimore well," Davis said. "I think that was something we wanted to do, come out here and show what we have been doing in Baltimore all year. And I was happy with the way the guys played."
Collectively, the Orioles caught all the balls hit to them and went a combined 2-for-9 with four strikeouts, one run scored and one RBI in the American League's 3-0 victory.
Jones doubled in the fifth against Philadelphia's Cliff Lee — his first All-Star hit in his fourth at-bat over three games.
"Not too shabby," Jones said. "Got my first All-Star hit, a double, scored a run. I'll take it."
Davis had a single in the fourth that helped set-up the AL's first run, Hardy drove in Jones with a groundout and Machado made arguably the defensive gem of the evening.
The only Oriole that didn't get into the game was Tillman, who was a late addition to the team as a pitching replacement.
When Tillman was asked whether he was disappointed that he didn't take the mound, he immediately responded the way Showalter and his teammates would expect.
"No, no no. Absolutely not," said Tillman, who like Machado and Davis attended his first big league All-Star game. "It was just awesome to be here. For real. I watched my teammates be part of a big win for the American League. It was just fun to watch."
That was the theme of the week.
Individually, the five Orioles felt they belonged at the All-Star Game — that their strong first halves were deserving of the reward.
But the experience was enhanced because they had the opportunity to make a national impression together.
"We all played great, and to share this moment with my teammates, who I spend the whole season with … to go out on the field as All-Stars with them, it was a cool experience for all of us," Machado said. "We spend six months or more together. We grind every day together. We're in a family. We're basically brothers."
twitter.com/danconnollysunCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun