If Tuesday proves to be the monster day from third baseman Manny Machado that scares the Orioles out of their midseason slump and their young star out of his own swoon, it couldn't have come at a better time.
Machado helped the Orioles to a 6-5, comeback victory over the Cleveland Indians to level their four-game series with the reigning American League champions thanks to a four-hit day that included a pair of home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored.
"Just happy I was able to do something for us today and come out with a victory," Machado said. "We played great baseball. That's what we've got to keep doing as a team, keep playing as a team. One another will pick each other up. That's all we can ask for."
Manager Buck Showalter has lamented some of the hard-hit balls at fielders that Machado has unleashed since returning a week ago from a wrist injury, and moved him to second in the lineup to spark him a bit.
"It's easy to say, but he's hit some home runs and had some good nights in the three-hole this year, too," Showalter said. "I am a believer in a little different, a change. Just a different look sometimes. But I don't put a whole lot of stock in it. Manny would hit well wherever we played him. He looked real comfortable tonight."
Perhaps Tuesday could do that.
With the Orioles (35-35) trailing 2-0 in the first inning, Machado yanked a curveball over the plate into the left-field seats to halve the lead. They were trailing 5-2 when he changed that with one swing of the bat, hitting his team-high 15th home run of the season with two men on and one out in the fifth inning to level the score at five.
Then, with the score tied in the seventh inning, Machado went the other way with a wall-ball double to right field and scored on the next pitch when center fielder Adam Jones doubled down the right-field line.
Machado raised his batting average to .227 with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Sweet relief: Alec Asher entered the game with a man on first base and nobody out in the fourth inning, and in retiring the next three batters he faced to leave him there, did something the Orioles have been begging for from a middle reliever all month.
He kept the game close, and the Orioles immediately erased their three-run deficit and never trailed again. Machado said Asher provided a spark by getting out of a jam in a situation his peers haven't lately.
"That's how we've got to pick each other up," Machado said. "That's what I'm talking about right there. ... Asher came in there after that long inning that [Chris Tillman] had and did a great job to hold us and keep us there. They gave us the opportunity to do all of the other stuff."
Asher, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Mychal Givens and Brad Brach combined for five shutout innings of relief, with Castro, who stranded the bases loaded in the seventh, earning the victory for his first major league win.
Brach dealt with a hairy ninth inning, allowing two men to reach with one out, but earned his 13th save.
"I felt like we were going to need all our bullets tonight to get to Brad and Mychal," Showalter said.
Tillman toils: Tillman endured another start during which not much went his way Tuesday, as he allowed five runs on eight hits with three walks and no strikeouts in four-plus innings to bring his ERA up to 8.39.
All five runs against him came with two outs. In the first inning, he had two out and one on when slugger Edwin Encarnación homered 454 feet into the second deck in left field to put the Orioles down 2-0.
The Indians also had two outs with a man on first in the fourth inning when Tillman issued a walk, then allowed an RBI single to left fielder Austin Jackson and a two-run double to shortstop Francisco Lindor to make it 17 straight games the Orioles have allowed at least five runs, extending their American League record.
There was help: Tillman's problems came even with a pair of well-earned outs from the Orioles defense. Catcher Welington Castillo took a run off the board in the first inning when he picked off shortstop Francisco Lindor at second base for the second out. Encarnación's home run followed.
In the fourth inning, shortstop Rubén Tejada showed the awareness the Orioles were hoping they wouldn't lose when shortstop J.J. Hardy went out with a fractured wrist. With runners on first and second and no outs, Machado fielded a ground ball that brought him into the basepath between second and third and stalled the runner for a beat or two before throwing to second baseman Jonathan Schoop for the force.
Instead of turning to first, Schoop found Tejada, who was covering at third base, to retire the lead runner for a 5-4-6 double play.
Bash brothers: Machado and Schoop entered Tuesday sitting together at 13 home runs, and as is their preference, hit their 14th on the same day.
Machado's solo home run in the first inning was a towering shot off a middle-middle curveball from Cleveland's starter, Josh Tomlin, while Schoop's solo home run that left the bat at 111 mph, according to Statcast, and quickly landed in the left-center-field seats.
The teams didn't stay tied long, with Machado pulling ahead three innings later.