Now that both teams are legitimate playoff contenders, the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles are developing quite a rivalry in the rugged American League East.
But players from each side showed concern Monday when Manny Machado, the Orioles’ young third baseman, suffered a gruesome left leg injury during the Rays’ 5-4 win.
In an attempt to beat out a grounder to second, Machado tripped over first base and crumbled to the ground, immediately grabbing his left ankle and knee. After being tended to by trainers from both teams, Machado left the field on a stretcher.
He was given a standing ovation from the 17,830 fans in attendance.
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“I was like, ‘I just hope it’s not his ACL,’” said Ben Zobrist, the Rays left-fielder Monday. “Especially a guy like that at his age, it’s never something you want to see out there. He’s one of their star players, and he’s going to be a star in this league for years to come. Hate to see him have to spend the offseason and part of the year next year rehabbing a knee injury. We wish him the best.”
Machado left with the team after Monday's game.
Machado, 21, was born in Hialeah and graduated from Miami Brito and was the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2010. A shortstop throughout the minor leagues, Machado was called up to play third base last season and helped the Orioles clinch their first playoff berth since 1997.
He made his first All-Star team this year and was leading the league with 51 doubles while batting .283 with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs.
“Baltimore has really ascended over the last couple of years, and I really think he’s been the keystone of that whole thing,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “This is a young man with tremendous talent. I don’t know him that well, but I think he’s got a great joy for the game also. So you hate to see (the injury) happen.”
GOING OUT WITH STYLE: The Rays’ victory Monday was their 13th walk-off win of the year, tying a franchise record set in 2011. James Loney, who won it with a solo home run in the ninth, became the 11th different Ray with a walk-off RBI.
Monday was the Rays’ last regular-season game at the Trop.
MORE ON THE WALK-OFF: Loney’s blast was the fifth walk-off pinch-hit home run in Rays’ history and the first since Brandon Allen’s game-winner April 26, 2012 against the Los Angeles Angels. It was also the Rays’ first pinch-hit home run since Carlos Pena had one Aug. 18, 2012, also against the Angels.
The home run was Loney’s 13th of the year and the second walk-off shot of his career. The other came on July 24, 2010 against the New York Mets while Loney was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
NO.1 AGAINST NO.3: Rays reliever Joel Peralta closed the top of the ninth inning by striking out Chris Davis, who hit third for Baltimore on Monday. Since coming to the Rays in 2011, Peralta has limited No.3 hitters to an average of .085 (7-for-82), the lowest in the majors.
Peralta was awarded the win to improve to 3-8.
STILL CAN’T DRAW A CROWD: The Rays drew just over 1.5 million fans to Tropicana Field this season, the lowest since 2007, the franchise’s last losing season. That figure is also the lowest since the franchise changed its name from the Devil Rays.
UP NEXT: The Rays close out the regular season with a six-game road trip beginning 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Matt Moore (15-4, 3.34) goes for Tampa Bay against New York’s Hiroki Kuroda (11-12, 3.17).
EASY FOR INDIANS: If the American League wild cards were awarded to the teams with the easiest records during the final week of the season, the Cleveland Indians would be a lock.
Entering Monday a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the top wild-card spot and a full game in front of the Texas Rangers for the second, the idle Indians wrap the regular season with a two games against the Chicago White Sox (61-94) and four against the Minnesota Twins (65-90).
Those six games come on the heels of the Indians’ four-game sweep over the Houston Astros (51-105).
The Rays, meanwhile, are in the midst of playing 11 straight games against teams with a winning record. They head to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday for the first of three games following today’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles.
“It’s just the way things work,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “I know that we have some tough teams to beat, and that’s it. That’s the way it breaks.”
Following the series with the Yankees, the Rays head to Toronto to close out the regular season against the Blue Jays. It will be the first time since Sept. 13-15 in Minnesota the Rays will face a team with a losing record.
Of course, playing in the American League East doesn’t help, especially because four of the division’s five teams have clinched winning records. The Indians, meanwhile, play in the American League Central, which guarantees 19 games apiece with the White Sox and the Twins, owners of the league’s second- and third-worst records, respectively.
“Earlier this season, everybody was being critical of us because we played an easy schedule,” Maddon said. “But I really challenge anybody to say the American League East schedule is easy at the end of the year. So it just happens that way. That’s who we’re scheduled to play right now, that’s who (the Indians) are scheduled to play, and you play and you don’t cry about it.”
CRAIN REINSTATED: The Rays have reinstated reliever Jesse Crain from the 60-day disabled list and designated pitcher J.D. Martin for assignment.
Tampa Bay acquired Crain from Chicago White Sox on July 29 while he was on the disabled list. An All-Star pick, Crain was 0-2 with a 0.74 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with the White Sox.
He has yet to pitch for the Rays.
NIFTY FIFTY: Sunday’s victory was the Rays’ 50th of the season at Tropicana Field, the third time in franchise history they reached the mark and the first since 2009.
The 2008 team was 57-24, at home and the ’09 team went 52-29.
THEY WON’T SEE CC: According to a story in the New York Post, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia has a strain in his left hamstring and will be shut down for the rest of the season.
Sabathia was scheduled to face the Rays on Wednesday in Yankee Stadium.
In five starts against the Rays this season, Sabathia went 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA, allowing 27 earned runs, 36 hits and 10 home runs in 32 1/3 innings.
The Yankees could throw the combination of Phil Hughes and David Huff in Sabathia’s place Wednesday, according to the Post.
WHO GOES THERE?: Maddon said either Jeremy Hellickson or Jake Odorizzi will start Friday’s series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.