After Manny Machado’s third walk-off homer of the season gave the Orioles a dramatic 7-6 win over the New York Yankees early Wednesday morning, rookie Trey Mancini looked at the clock in the home clubhouse at Camden Yards with surprise.
“It’s 1:13?” he said.
The win was one of the Orioles’ most invigorating of the season. They sat through a two-hour, 14-minute delay that postponed the game’s first pitch, pecked away at an early 6-1 deficit on the backs of four home runs, received 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball from six relievers and grabbed victory in their final at-bat.
“It’s part of the game,” Machado said of the Orioles’ methodical comeback. “It’s part of baseball. We’ve just got to fight through it, stay with it, not worry about what happened that inning, go ahead and come back to the plate, and chip away, little by little. The next inning we came back and got a run; the next inning we came back and got another one. Little by little, you can’t win a game with one at-bat with nobody on.”
And after the game, several Orioles players were in no hurry to leave Oriole Park.
Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop — who seemed to be competing on the field by each hitting almost-identical homers into the bullpens beyond the left-center-field fence before Machado’s second homer of the night won it — were battling in a postgame chess match.
Shortstop Tim Beckham — whose five-pitch walk with two outs in the ninth brought Machado to bat in an important plate appearance that could easily go overlooked — sat at the same table and watched silently.
Outside the Orioles clubhouse, Mark Trumbo — whose 200th career home run, a two-run blast in the sixth inning, made it a one-run game — had just greeted two young fans, up well past their bedtime, who returned his milestone home-run ball to him. Trumbo returned the favor with a pair of autographed baseballs and a smile.
Tuesday’s — or rather Wednesday’s — win marked the Orioles’ 12th walk-off victory of the season, and Machado has been the maestro of the team’s late-inning dramatics. The win was his third walk-off hit of the season — all of them home runs and all within the past month.
Machado beat the Oakland Athletics two Wednesdays ago with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning and five days before that erased a two-run deficit on one swing with a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in a win over the Los Angeles Angels. That was his third grand slam in an 11-game stretch, which began with another game-winning slam against the Angels on Aug. 7 to kick-start the team’s West Coast road trip.
But this win seemed to be the most important, because it came against a Yankees team the Orioles are chasing in the American League wild-card race and in the AL East standings. Three teams from the division made the postseason last year, and the Yankees currently sit in the first AL wild-card spot.
Also, with just 24 games left entering the night, and the Orioles could see from the out-of-town scoreboard in right field that there was an opportunity to gain ground on the Minnesota Twins, who sat in the second wild-card position.
With the win, the Orioles are a game behind the Angels, who now hold the second wild card, and a half-game behind the Twins.
“’It couldn’t be a bigger situation,” Trumbo said. “This is the time we need stuff like that to happen if it’s going to and I think that giving him the chance, we can’t pick a better guy to be out there for that.
“It’s my favorite [win] of the season, that’s no doubt. That’s a really good ballclub over there, a ballclub that played us really tough. [Yankees starter] CC [Sabathia] was doing a nice job. … But we stayed with it and the momentum came our way.”
The Orioles haven’t had much success against New York, losing eight of the first 13 games against the Yankees at home, and they’ll be tested again next week at Yankee Stadium, where they’ve been outscored 44-9 and were swept in four games during their last visit to the Bronx back in June.
Machado has had his struggles against New York this season as well. Even though his most mammoth homer — a 470-foot blast that in April that was the first ball hit over the center-field restaurant at Yankee Stadium — was against New York, he entered Tuesday hitting just .184 against the Yankees.
The Orioles have struggled to build on the momentum created by potentially galvanizing wins like Tuesday’s, and now is the time to do so. A win Wednesday will give the Orioles a series win over the Yankees and set the tone for an upcoming road trip to Cleveland, Toronto and New York that could make or break their season.
“We still have 20-something games left. We don't know what's going to happen,” Machado said. “The only thing we can control is that we've got Sonny Gray [Wednesday] and we know we've got a tough pitcher we've got to go ahead and try to beat to take the series. That's the only thing that matters, to be honest.”