Anytime he stepped on the field last night at Fenway Park, made a play, or came up to bat, Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles was boo’d vociferously. Now with that said, let’s assume that the Fenway Faithful was up in arms about the slide on Pedroia (even though it’s been established that it was clean) as opposed to hating on Machado because their guy got suspended for throwing at him. But either way, it was Machado and his Orioles teammates who got the last laugh on this last night.
Dylan Bundy tossed seven very strong innings in tough conditions. Temperatures at Fenway were in the high 40’s at first pitch – on May 1st! But obviously both teams have to deal with the weather conditions, which in the NFL are referred to as “the great equalizer.” Bundy’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 K. The walks are a bit of a concern for Bundy, but the defense behind him turned several key double-plays. And make no mistake, they weren’t exactly easy double-plays to turn.
The teams played to a scoreless tie through five innings. Mind you, until Sunday in the Bronx Caleb Joseph hadn’t knotched an RBI since 2015. Now he’s seemingly an RBI-machine; his RBI-double in the fifth inning gave the Birds a 1-0 lead. But one inning later it was Machado who provided the scene of the night, with his solo homer.
Again, we know that Machado’s slide on Pedroia two weeks ago was clean. It was a bit late, but it wasn’t intended to injure anyone – and nobody felt worse about the situation than Machado. But way more was made about this than was necessary, especially seeing that the Boston media in essence was cheerleading that entire weekend trying to get them to retaliate. And of course they did, on that Sunday afternoon when Barnes threw at Machado’s head.
And incidentally, Machado got very high marks from the national media for how he handled the entire situation. And that should continue into last night, as he let his bat respond on his behalf. After the game Machado played down whether or not the crowd inspired him to smack the homer and help turn so many tough double-plays, but he played it down (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
I just go about my business. I’ve got to come out here and perform regardless, whether they boo me or whether they don’t. I’ve got a job to do and that’s what I went out there today and did.
Again, Machado did everything right. However I suspect that it felt good to silence most of those people last night. Incidentally, Boston all but threw up over themselves in the field later in the game, committing a total of four errors. And most of them led to Oriole runs…
…Machado reached on one of those errors in the eighth, scoring a third run. A throwing error on a Trumbo single later in the inning ran it to 4-0, and Davis’ sac fly-RBI gave the O’s a 5-0 lead. All three of those runs were unearned, as Boston literally just gave them to the Orioles.
Boston would threaten in the last of the eighth with two RBI-singles. However the Orioles’ bullpen put a stop to the rally after relieving Bundy, and the Birds closed the game out with a 5-2 victory. If there was ever a reminder of how important good defense is, it’s Boston’s performance last night.
The series continues this evening at Fenway Park. Alec Asher will get the start for the Orioles (techincally a spot start since he was most recently a reliever), and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.