Manny Machado is not done getting even with the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles third baseman continued his destruction of the team that kept throwing at him early in the season with a home run into the second deck of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, giving them an early edge that they rode to a 3-2 victory on Friday night.
With the win, the third straight for the O’s, they have passed the Red Sox for second place in the American League East. Despite a negative run differential, the Orioles are five games above .500 and now just 2.5 games behind the Yankees, who lost to the Blue Jays, in the division. They have guaranteed at least a split of the four-game series against Boston.
Machado’s titanic dinger wasn’t even the first Orioles home run of the game. Leadoff man Seth Smith got the party started with an extended at-bat against last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello, that Smith ended by hitting a home run into the right field seats, giving the Orioles a 1-0 lead after one batter. For Smith, that was the third leadoff home run of his career.
That ended up being much of the excitement in the game. The O’s collected nine hits in the contest and three of them were in that first inning. They had just one walk in the contest, so there weren’t many scoring opportunities and the O’s were not able to take advantage of many of the ones they got: They were 0-5 with runners in scoring position in the game.
A lot of the time this season, especially in the recent streak of May struggles, the starting pitching or the bullpen has been such that a relatively meager offensive effort was not enough for the Orioles to win the game. A different sheriff was in town on Friday night: Alec Asher, rebounding from a tough start in Houston exactly the way that you would want.
Asher kept the Red Sox offense in check so thoroughly that it was almost boring. He rode through 6.1 innings of the game, giving up just three hits and no walks to Boston hitters. That was all!
With the Orioles offense not scoring much, the game was close the whole time and therefore tense and interesting. That was especially true after Pablo Sandoval hit a solo home run in the top of the third inning, a cheapie that barely landed in the first row of the left field seats, to cut the deficit to 2-1.
That came right after a bottom of the second inning in which a baserunning miscue cost the Orioles a good chance to add on more runs. The bottom of the lineup came through against Porcello, with back-to-back one out singles by J.J. Hardy and Caleb Joseph to get an interesting rally going as the lineup turned over for the first time.
A wild pitch to Smith made things even more interesting. Unfortunately for the Orioles, while Hardy got a good read and broke for third base, Joseph hesitated before taking off for second base and Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon was able to fire down to second base and start a rundown that ended with Joseph being tagged out. That is what they call a TOOTBLAN.
The O’s were able to get to Porcello again in the fourth inning. Jonathan Schoop got on base with a one-out single. First base might not be scoring position, but if you get the right kind of hit, a runner can still score from there. Hyun Soo Kim drove a ball towards the right field corner, catching Sox right fielder Mookie Betts off guard and out of position.
Betts couldn’t get to the ball in a speedy fashion as it rolled all the way to the wall. Schoop was windmilled around third base and he kept on motoring as Betts relayed the ball into the infield. There was no throw home as Schoop slid across home plate, helmet flying cinematically as he impacted the ground and scored the third Orioles run.
That’s where things stayed until the seventh inning. Asher retired ten batters in a row and 12 of 13 following Sandoval’s homer. Xander Bogaerts led off the seventh inning with a double. Asher was lifted after getting the first out of the inning, receiving a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd of 33,193.
With the starter pitching into the seventh inning, the Orioles had the chance to deploy their good relievers. Mychal Givens relieved Asher. It didn’t take long for Jackie Bradley Jr. to drive in the second Boston run with a single - charged to Asher’s ledger - but lucky for the Orioles, Bradley tried to steal second base and was thrown out to end the inning.
From there, Darren O’Day took over for the eighth inning, and other than a walk to Leon, had no problems. Brad Brach sent the Sox down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning for his eleventh save of the season. Just like they drew it up.
The Orioles will be back in action against the Red Sox on Saturday evening at 7:15 with a chance to take down the series victory. Dylan Bundy’s turn comes up for the Orioles, with David Price getting just his second start of the season for Boston.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for June 2, 2017?
This poll is closed
Alec Asher (6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO)
Seth Smith (leadoff homer)
Manny Machado (second deck homer, is awesome)