The AL East was up late last night. While the Red Sox were on their way to a 19th-inning walk-off over the Blue Jays, the Orioles and Yankees were sitting through a two-plus-hour rain delay, and Baltimore was slowly inching back from a 6-1 run hole. And then, finally, around 1 in the morning, Manny Machado sent everyone home.
Down one in the ninth, the O’s looked dead in the water. But as Bob Prince used to say, all you need is a bloop and a blast—in this case, a walk from Tim Beckham, and quite a blast from Machado.
Machado, who was serenaded all evening by visiting fans with chants of “Future Yankee,” is on a roll. He was just named AL Player of the Month for August, and it’s his third walk-off home run in the last 19 days—the shortest span since Sammy Sosa did it in 1996. The winner was Machado’s second of the game, as Machado goes neck-and-neck with Jonathan Schoop for the team lead: Machado pulled ahead with his 31st in the third inning, before Schoop matched him two innings later—a tie that would last until the very last pitch of a long, long night. And yet, in the clubhouse after the game, Machado and Schoop were going head-to-head in a game of chess.
“We’re confident with everyone we have in here,” said Machado, who has 14 home runs and 38 RBIs since Aug. 1. “We’re going to do everything possible, keep playing like a team and do the things that count, and things will turn out the way they need to. We just need to control going out there and giving it our all.”
It was a big, big win for the Orioles: They’re now just one game back of the Angels for the second wild card, in the middle of a pile-up that includes eight teams all within 5.5 games of each other for the two spots.