Chris Tillman was good. Manny Machado was better.
The Orioles leaned on their 6'6 starter for 6.0 innings, as Tilly allowed only three runs and six hits while also striking out five. Tillman earned his 10th win on the year. Machado, who finished the night with one hit in four at-bats, provided the biggest knock of the night in the 7th inning, a two-run homer on Max Scherzer's 122nd pitch.
The 9th inning provided the showcasing of true #Natitude, as Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon took it upon himself to show Machado just how much he likes him. After consecutive outs from Steve Clevenger and Gerardo Parra, Machado saw Papelbon buzz a fastball up and in towards his temple to kick off the at-bat. There wasn't much to think of it, especially after Papelbon dropped in an 0-1 curveball the very next pitch. However, Papelbon's intentions were less than admirable.
One of Twitter's favorite players (sarcasm font), Papelbon then proceeded to hit the bullseye on Machado's left shoulder. Paps was immediately ejected, while Buck Showalter showed off his cardio in a quick jog to defend his star third baseman.
Machado was certainly not a fan of Papelbon's friendly gesture.
Machado: "That's coward stuff."— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) September 24, 2015
Despite the late inning antics, a baseball game happened to be played in D.C. tonight.
Steve Pearce kicked off the Orioles' scoring, smashing a 1st inning two-run home run to left field on a fastball that Scherzer mistakenly guided over the middle of the plate. Pearce finished the night 2-4, adding a double. In fact, the only Orioles starting position player not to record a hit was Jonathan Schoop, who struck out in all three of his at-bats versus Scherzer.
Tillman appeared much more dialed in tonight than compared to a majority of his 2015 starts. After shaking off a double and a single two batters into the 1st inning, a well-timed double play led to an escape of early trouble. Tilly had the changeup and curveball working over the plate, and an unusual number of well-placed fastballs stifled the Nationals into the 5th inning. At one point, Tillman had retired 10-consecutive Nationals.
However, the 5th inning proved to be the inning of implosion.
After striking out Ian Desmond to begin the 5th, Tillman proceeded to walk the speedy Michael Taylor. Wilson Ramos snuck a weakly-hit fastball down the left field line, past Machado who happened to be playing more towards the 6-hole. Taylor and his wheels made it all the way home, tying the game at 2-2. Tillman still had the chance to limit the damage, especially with Scherzer coming to the plate. Just as the Orioles would seem to do, Scherzer battled from an 0-2 count, laying off sliders and curveballs from Tillman, only to poke a single into right field, leaving runners on the corners with one out.
Anthony Rendon eventually sent a sacrifice fly into right field, giving the Nationals the 3-2 lead.
The Orioles showed that shutdown innings are indeed possible, as Wieters, Schoop and Flaherty provided little resistance in the top of the 6th.
In the top of the 7th, J.J. Hardy got just enough of an 0-2 slider and sent a floating line drive into left-center for a leadoff double. Pinch-hittin' Jimmy Paredes continued to flail, striking out, while Parra was robbed of a double on a stellar diving play from first baseman Clint Robinson. Then the magic happened.
Machado worked back Scherzer into a 2-2 count (and began the at-bat with 118 pitches), before launching a flat 98 MPH fastball into the left-center seats. Machado's 30th home run of the season and career hit No. 501 put the Orioles on top 4-3.
Everyone's new favorite sidearmer Mychal Given made quick work of the Nats in the 7th and 8th innings, striking out two, while never really giving any of the six batters he faced a chance to connect for any threatening contact.
The 9th inning saw Machado get plunked, the benches somewhat clearing, Papelbon refusing to leave the dugout, Manny staring at Paps with a look of rage, Papelbon desperately failing to make eye contact with Manny and finally, a very controlled, yet frustrated Showalter.
Darren O'Day made quick work of the Nats in the 9th, as Zach Britton continues to remain in the bullpen with a strained lat muscle. A 1-2-3 final inning gave O'Day his
Tomorrow will be interesting, and Bryce Harper has a feeling a fastball may be coming his way.
Bryce Harper didn't seem to love Machado getting hit. "I'll probably get drilled tomorrow."— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) September 24, 2015
Maybe they need a #Natitude adjustment.
Regardless, the Orioles move to 75-76 and 4.0 GB from the 2nd Wild Card spot with 11 games to go.