Manny Machado to hit in simulated game today

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There’s no clear timetable for Manny Machado to rejoin the Orioles, but he’s about to take a step forward in his rehab from knee surgery.

According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Machado will take two at-bats today in a simulated game against rehabbing left-hander Johan Santana. These will be his first at-bats in a competitive setting since he had the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee repaired in October.

While this qualifies as progress, Machado hasn’t been cleared to run the bases. That will be the biggest step of all. Once that happens, the Orioles can think about sending him on a minor league rehab assignment. That still sounds a little ways off, though.

The Orioles have used Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, and Steve Lombardozzi at third base so far this season. They are hitting .189/.189/.324 as a group.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.