There was a fair amount of excitement heading into tonight's game. Manny Machado was making his major-league debut, the Orioles had Wei-Yin Chen on the mound, and they got to face some dude named Will Smith with a 6 ERA.
Well...the Manny Machado part was exciting!
I had the pleasure of attending tonight's game with a number of Camden Chatters, including duck, PBR me ASAP!, Eat More Esskay, brek, DaveAA, Terrorist Fist Jab, birdman, and PaulFolk. I also got the chance to meet joet and a very pleasant fellow named Clark who told EME he counts down the days to the podcast. I only wish a night filled with such community had also had a better result on the baseball field.
As fans decked out in Wei-Yin Chen t-shirts cheered him on in the top of the first inning, Chen promptly gave up a home run to leadoff hitter Alex Gordon. Two singles later, Billy Butler (who enjoys breaking Orioles' legs in his spare time) homered into the seats in left field, giving the Royals a 4-0 lead. The normally reliable Chen had lost his touch big time that inning, and it didn't end there.
After giving up just a walk in the second inning, Chen was back in trouble in the third. A one-out double by that pest, Butler, put a runner in scoring position. Salvador Perez grounded out to third, giving Machado his first play of his big-league career. It was a routine grounder, but that didn't stop the Camden Chatters in the stands from declaring, "Wilson Betemit wouldn't have made that play!" Chen was one out away from escaping the inning but instead gave up back-to-back doubles to Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur to give the Royals two more runs.
The Orioles didn't have trouble putting on runners against Smith, they just couldn't knock any of them in. Smith walked Nick Markakis to start the game and also gave up a single to Adam Jones, but Adam got greedy and was thrown out by a mile at second base trying to get a double. Smith struck out Matt Wieters to end that inning.
Two more runners reached base in the second inning, that time on a Lew Ford infield single and Robert Andino walk to bring Machado up to the plate for his first at bat with two outs. He got a nice ovation from the crowd, but grounded out. They wasted two more runners in the third as well. By the time the bottom of the fifth inning rolled around, the Orioles were down 7-0 and it looked like they might get shut out by this Will Smith person.
Manny Machado made sure that didn't happen. He led off the fifth inning with a liner to the gap in right-center field. It was easily a double off the bat but Machado had other ideas. He never slowed down rounding second base and slid into third ahead of the throw with his first major-league hit. And it was a triple! Well done, Manny.
Markakis followed Machado with a line drive to left field. It looked like it might fall in for a single, but Alex Gordon caught it close to the ground. It didn't seem like the kind of play a runner could score on, but Machado didn't care about that. He raced home and, thanks to a terrible throw from Gordon, scored the Orioles first run of the game. Machado!
The Royals added another run in the top of the sixth, though, at the hands of Kevin Gregg. Gregg had come on in the fifth inning to get the last out in relief of Chen, and with two outs in the sixth he allowed two straight hits that resulted in one more run. It was 8-1 Royals, and not a very fun game.
The suddenly hot Matt Wieters led off the sixth inning with his 16th home run of the year, a ball that just got out of the park in right field. That was the last of the scoring on the night, as both the Royals and Orioles bullpens shut the lineups down.
In the bottom of the ninth inning we all hoped that one batter would reach so that Machado could get his fourth at bat of the night and hopefully add to his hit total (in addition to the triple, he reached on an infield single in the seventh). Mark Reynolds obliged with a walk, and with two outs Machado came to the plate again. There was no more magic to be had, though, as he hit a fly ball to shallow right field to end the game.