We’ve heard a lot recently about the Orioles’ success in one-run games and the Rays’ inability to win one. Well, their fortunes finally reversed today.
We’ll start with the Orioles. They entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead against the Yankees, but things unraveled from there. Wei-Yin Chen was ahead of Jayson Nix 0-2 with two outs and a runner on first, but he ended up walking him. Eduardo Nunez then delivered an RBI single before Buck Showalter brought the hook. His replacement, Pedro Strop then issued two walks, including one to Derek Jeter to force in a run. The go-ahead run scored after J.J. Hardy mishandled a hard-hit ball up the middle off the bat of Nick Swisher.
The Yankees didn’t get much from starter David Phelps, who gave up three runs on three hits and six walks over just 4 2/3 innings, but the bullpen was excellent. Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano combined to give up just one hit and two walks over 4 1/3 shutout innings. The loss snapped a streak of 13 straight wins in one-run games for the Orioles dating back to June 20 against the Mets. With today’s 4-3 win, the Yankees have a three-game cushion again in the American League East.
As for the Rays, they ended up hanging on thanks to a five-out save from Fernando Rodney and some heroics from B.J. Upton and Jose Molina. Colby Rasmus hit a single to center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Upton made a strong throw to Molina, who blocked a charging Omar Vizquel from scoring the tying run. You’ll recall last night’s game ended in the same exact fashion, as Blue Jays’ catcher Jeff Mathis was able to hang on following a collision with Elliot Johnson. Crazy.
As you can see with the video here, it looked like the 45-year-old Vizquel hit a brick wall. Molina came up limping after the collision, but he was able to hang onto to the ball to help secure the 5-4 victory. The Rays entered today’s action with 11 losses in their last 12 games decided by one run, but hey, maybe they are turning a new leaf now that the calendar has flipped to September.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.