Jul 18, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) hits a two run home run against the Oakland Athletics during the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Manny Machado is He Who (Almost) Laughed Last

There is no doubt that Manny Machado displayed some foolish reactions when the Oakland A’s were in Baltimore in June. The anger over the “too hard” tag and the subsequent bat-throwing incident did not serve him well nor establish an early-career reputation as a good guy.

I am in the “redemption” business, so to speak (as a local church pastor), and I believe there is redemption for Manny. Of course, I’m not talking “spiritually speaking.” Yet, having gone this far on this theme, let me say that this is the definition of redemption: the removal of guilt by the payment of a price.

Manny paid the price with his suspension. He continues to pay the price with writers and broadcasters by virtue of all the questions he is being continuously asked about the incidents. And he had to pay some more with the fans of Oakland and their jeers, boos and taunts.

But once redemption for sin is accomplished, accompanied by a genuine attitude of repentance, what follows is restoration. And the O’s third baseman got a lot of that on Friday night in Oakland.

With the game tied at two runs each in the top of the 7th inning, Machado turned on a pitch and hit it into the left-field seats just inside the foul pole. And with J.J. Hardy on first base, this gave the Orioles and Chris Tillman a 4-2 lead. After paying the price with his five-game suspension, Manny has been 17-for-35 since.

But there was more redemption on the field for the Orioles on this evening. Jonathan Schoop homered on a 3-2 pitch (after a double play looked to ruin the fifth inning), and with a runner on third base put the Orioles into the lead at that time, 2-1. So really, do the Orioles need a new second baseman?

More redemption would come for Tommy Hunter. Following Chris Tillman to the mound after the O’s starter pitched a fine 6.2 innings with two runs on four hits, Hunter would get a strikeout to end the inning. He then added a quick 1-2-3 eighth inning to “set up” the close for Zach Britton. This is textbook.

But.

But, there is a “big but” on this evening. There is this annoying thing called “the bottom of the ninth inning.” Yoenis Cespedes opened it with a dribbler in front of Machado. Brandon Moss followed with a broken-bat dinker beyond first base. What should have been two outs were two singles instead. Josh Donaldson stepped to the plate and deposited a game-winning three-run homer over the center-field wall.

Donaldson got to laugh last … this time. But I have to think we are closer to the beginning than we are to the end of this rivalry. J.J. Hardy was hit in the head with a pitch; Adam Jones barely escaped the same as the ball went off his shoulder. Caleb Joseph was also hit earlier in the game. These teams may be destined to play more than just the next two games against each other this season.

In other news …

After spending a week in Boston, it was good on my final evening before driving home to be able to see some Orioles baseball. I will say about Boston, they clearly do love their Red Sox. Why? I can’t imagine, but simply acknowledge that it is true. People are wearing the gear EVERYWHERE you go. It even seemed like the entire tourist crowd was the same—maybe I stumbled upon New England week at Bunker Hill and Quincy Market.

The Red Sox won their second half opener at Fenway against the Royals. I did see a few Kansas City shirts, hats, and families on vacation—planning to catch a game. Must be wealthy people to do that. Even a morning tour of Fenway costs more than most Orioles tickets for a game. My family and I decided we didn’t need to see it that bad.

The only Yankees hat that I saw all day was one on a beggar hoping to get a few coins dropped into a Styrofoam cup. It seemed like a bad marketing strategy to me, unless this fellow was trying to be the one street guy cornering the market on the anti-Red Sox crowd. He didn’t seem to be doing well.

Tags: Manny Machado

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