Manny Machado has two hits in major league debut

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In the most hyped debut for an Orioles’ prospect since Matt Wieters back in 2009, Manny Machado went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in tonight’s 8-2 loss to the Royals.

Machado, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, started at third base and batted ninth. After grounding out to shortstop in his first at-bat in the second inning, he led off the fifth with an opposite-field triple to the right-center field gap and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Nick Markakis. Interestingly enough, Wieters’ first major league hit was also a triple.

Machado reached on an infield single in the seventh inning after beating out a slow roller to second base. He had a chance at a third hit in the ninth inning, but popped out behind second base for the final out of the ballgame. The 20-year-old looked pretty comfortable at third base despite making just two pro starts there prior to tonight’s game. Wilson Betemit should still get some playing time at the hot corner against some right-handed starters, but the O’s didn’t bring Machado up to have him sit on the bench.

Wei-Yin Chen had his worst start as a member of the Orioles tonight, giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. Billy Butler fell a single short of the cycle for the Royals, collecting a three-run homer, a double and his first triple since 2009. “Country Breakfast” had two chances for the elusive single, but he struck out swinging in his final two at-bats.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Orioles, who now sit at 60-52 on the year. They are currently 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and are in a flat-footed tie with the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.