Something about Manny: Machado delivers sweep
Third baseman drives in winner, insurance to take doubleheader
BALTIMORE -- The nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader with the Dodgers left Camden Yards sizzling with emotion. On a cool April evening, it seemed a whole lot like the playoff games of 2012.
And why shouldn't it? There was a walk-up of at least 10,000, which gave the Orioles their first sellout since Opening Day. The noise and cheers started early and didn't often stop, especially when players like Manny Machado kept getting timely hits and Wei-Yin Chen added good pitching, completing a sweep of the twin bill with a 6-1 victory against the Dodgers before a sellout crowd of 45,248 at Camden Yards.
The big crowd likely came from the fact that the Orioles honored late manager Earl Weaver in a ceremony before the nightcap. Baltimore won the first game of the doubleheader, 7-5, in the afternoon, but the stadium filled up for the second contest -- and that's something the players certainly noticed.
"Somebody was telling me we had 10,000 ... walk up," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's cool. The place was really alive. A lot of energy in the ballpark. It means a lot to us. Any time Brooks Robinson is in the building, you want to see that. Of course, Cal [Ripken] and everybody else. It helped."
Machado had the big night. He finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, the big hits breaking a tie in the fifth on an RBI double and breaking the Dodgers' back with a three-run homer in the sixth.
The 20-year old third baseman talked afterward about how much fun it was for the Orioles to draw emotion from the big crowd.
"It definitely pumps us up. Having the crowd behind us and cheering us on definitely helps us," Machado said. "It's no pressure at all. It's just something that motivates us more. Having the crowd behind us, cheering on definitely helps us go out there and just be ourselves and play."
In fact, Showalter talked about how this would be the kind of game that Weaver would have liked watching and/or managing.
Weaver enjoyed what the three-run homer could do for his team. He also liked good defense, and the Orioles turned three double plays in this game and got strong starting pitching from Chen, even though he struggled at times. He gave up one run on three hits in six innings. Tommy Hunter earned his first career save by pitching the final three innings.
Chen (1-2) finally earned a victory after going 10 starts without one, dating back to last August, though Chen did win a playoff game last year, beating the Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. The Orioles didn't score a run in his last two starts.
Chen didn't like his own effort, though he threw five scoreless innings after Adrian Gonzalez gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the first.
"Obviously, I don't think that it was really good tonight," Chen said through an interpreter. "I was lucky tonight. My stuff was terrible today, not really good. I was lucky tonight to get a win."
Chris Davis tied it in the second with a 448-foot solo homer to center field, and Chen kept the Dodgers quiet after that as the Orioles took charge.
Machado gave the Orioles the lead for good with his RBI double in the fifth. Adam Jones added another RBI double later that inning before Machado's three-run homer in the sixth removed all of the suspense and ended the night for Dodgers starter Josh Beckett (0-3).
"It went down the middle, and that was the difference today," Beckett said. "The pitches that their guys were making were pitches I wasn't, and ultimatel,y that's what lost us the game."
The Dodgers are having a bunch of early-season problems. They've now lost six in a row, their longest skid since June 24-30 of last year.
Still, manager Don Mattingly said he still believes in his team. After all, it's still very early in the season.
"I'm not at the point where I'm not confident in my club," Mattingly said. "I know we have a good club. It hasn't gone quite the way we wanted it to, but I got confidence in my club. We just have to put a couple wins on the board."
That's why the doubleheader sweep is another reason the Orioles are gaining confidence. They dropped two of three in New York last weekend before returning home this week.
They've won four of five since. The Orioles beat Tampa Bay twice in three games and swept this doubleheader. Now, Jones said the Orioles will have a very simple goal Sunday.
"You've got to play the game, and right now we're doing it," he said. "We've got to come out and be greedy tomorrow and get the sweep."