Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles will have a big hole in their lineup in Sunday's series finale with the Toronto Blue Jays as Baltimore third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado is dropping his appeal and begins serving his four-game suspension for what happened in the June 7 brawl with Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura.
That could prove tough for the Orioles on Sunday and throughout the four days as Machado has arguably been one of the top players in the major leagues so far this season. He has a .317 average with 17 homers and 42 RBIs after Saturday's 4-2 victory over the Jays.
In addition, the Orioles will have to play one man short throughout the four games as a suspended player can't be replaced on the roster. Manager Buck Showalter is well aware of this.
"We're going to be short somewhere, regardless," Showalter said. "That's part of the penalty. So, kind of pick your poison."
The Orioles (39-28) needed to make some moves to open spots for pitcher Yovani Gallardo and shortstop J.J. Hardy on Saturday, both returning after long stretches on the disabled list. They moved left-hander T.J. McFarland back to Triple-A Norfolk, keeping infielder Paul Janish, who probably will see some playing time at third or serve as a backup.
Machado and the Orioles thought it was the best move at this time. He just wants to move on.
"It's done and over. I'll sit down for the four games and be ready to help this team get to the playoffs," Machado said.
Offense might be hard to find in Sunday's game as the two starters, Toronto's Marcus Stroman (6-2, 4.76 ERA) and Baltimore's Chris Tillman (9-1, 2.87), both have pitched effectively this season.
Stroman won his first four decisions before splitting his last two. Tillman has been on a roll, winning eight straight games and pitching as well as he has in his career.
The Orioles need more consistent starting pitching, and Tillman has been their lone starter who has done well throughout the season. He has emerged as a true ace, and the Orioles need a strong performance from him as the Blue Jays (39-32) have been crushing the ball in recent games.
The Toronto offense, as strong as it is, gained some help with the return of Troy Tulowitzki from the disabled list.
Toronto now has won eight of its last 11 games, a big reason the Blue Jays have turned the American League East into a three-team race. The Orioles come into Sunday's game with a one-game lead over Boston and a two-game edge over the Jays.
The Blue Jays and Orioles split the first two games of this series. Toronto had beaten Baltimore in the last four games between the teams.
These are two of the best-hitting teams in the American League and baseball, and runs often are scored when they play each other.
The big question Sunday is how the Orioles will do without Machado because the Jays have plenty of punch and power on offense.
"I mean, (that's) a good lineup," Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey said. "We're going to do this all year to each other. We have to batten down the hatches and just score more runs than they do."