Machado flashes leather in Midsummer Classic debut
Orioles third baseman backhands one-hopper, robs D-backs' Goldschmidt of hit
NEW YORK -- In the first of what will likely be many All-Star appearances for the Orioles' Manny Machado, the young third baseman displayed the glove work that helped bring him to New York for the 84th Midsummer Classic.
In the seventh inning, with the American League leading, 2-0, Machado robbed the D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt of a base hit with a sparkling backhanded grab on a sharply hit one-hopper down the third-base line. Machado then turned and threw across his body to nail Goldschmidt at first.
"It was a regular, routine play, I just made it look a little tougher," Machado said after the AL's 3-0 victory over the National League. "It caught a little hop at the end and I had to drop-step a little at the end."
Following the play, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis gave Machado the customary heat veterans give rookies.
"I wasn't impressed," Davis joked. "I've seen that play several times already. He didn't hit the guy in the chest and I told him that."
Davis, though, is used to seeing Machado flash the glove.
"He's been doing that all year, whether it's diving, going to his left or his right," he said. "The guy makes plays."
In his lone at-bat, Machado faced Braves closer Craig Kimbrel and struck out on an 87-mph slider.
Machado was excited to be playing professionally for the first time in front of his longtime hitting coach Frank Valdez, whom he met at Team Renteria Batting Cages in Pembroke Pines, Fla., when he was just 13. No doubt, Valdez will be discussing that slider with his former pupil.
"That's all I was thinking about afterward, that he's going to crack down on me for swinging on that pitch," Machado said. "He watches all my games on TV and tells me the good, the bad and the ugly. When I do something wrong, he figures it out in the moment and says, 'Hey, you didn't do this today, and that's why you missed that pitch.' So we're going to talk, for sure."
Machado, one of the league's top young players, turned 21 earlier this month. He hit 38 doubles before July 1, the second-most in the Majors since 1921, and had a career-high 14-game hitting streak earlier this season. He ranks second in the AL with 128 hits and 11th with a .310 batting average.
But despite those numbers, Machado knows the importance of his glove.
"Defense is huge, because defense wins games," he says. "I think my defense got me here."