BALTIMORE -- Sunday's 6-5 first-half-sealing win over the Rangers could have been a feel-good occasion for the Orioles, a positive way to close a mostly miserable first half for a last-place club. But the team's first back-to-back wins at Camden Yards -- and first series win at home since May 13 -- wasn't about the on-field play. It was about the guy in the dugout.
Shortstop Manny Machado, who was removed for precautionary reasons following a 36-minute rain delay, watched the second half of the game in a sweatshirt, leaning on the home dugout railing. The biggest trade chip in advance of July 31's non-waiver Trade Deadline will represent Baltimore on Tuesday in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. How long after that remains the O's largest looming question.
"We're all adults here, some more than others. We know what's going on, the potential. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that [the rain] was all of it," manager Buck Showalter said of the decision to take out Machado. "My thought on that is, What are you telling the other eight people?' Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that. That had a lot to do with it."
Machado, who said he was surprised when he was removed, spoke to Showalter during the rain delay and again after the game.
"He just said, 'I'm going to take you out,'" Machado said. "'You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"
When Machado was replaced in the field in the top of the fifth inning following the delay, a trade seemed like a natural possibility. But there was no deal Sunday, just a clear message that the Orioles will exercise extreme caution with their star. It also perhaps tips the club's hand, as you have to wonder how long the Orioles can protect Machado from things like sloppy field conditions when he's their everyday shortstop, while every game he plays for Baltimore is less his time he would play with a contender.
"I can't really say," Showalter said, when asked if Machado -- assuming he's not traded by Friday -- will continue to be handled with extreme caution. "There are variables that play into each day and I take the variable and how it correlates to each day and see where we are. Dan [Duquette, the O's general manager] and his group are working very hard on a lot of things to make us better today and down the road, and the timing of that is always a challenge."
Machado did homer before his afternoon ended, hitting his 24th of the year in the first inning off Rangers starter Mike Minor to put the O's on the board. Down four immediately on Ronald Guzman's grand slam off Miguel Castro, Adam Jones gave Baltimore the lead with a bases-clearing double as part of a five-run third.
Closer Zach Britton -- another trade candidate -- picked up his second save of the series, pitching on back-to-back days for the second time since coming off the disabled list last month. Britton got two quick outs before issuing a walk to Shin-Soo Choo. Elvis Andrus doubled but the Orioles were able to nab pinch-runner Carlos Tocci at the plate to preserve the win.
Whether it will be the final one Machado sees in the black and orange remains to be seen.
"Just looking back at everything that's happened this year, trade rumors, everything, just overall playing with this team has always been incredible," Machado said, when asked to reflect on the possible finality of Sunday's game. "Whether we've had our ups and downs this year, it is what it is. Me putting up the numbers I did at shortstop, where people didn't think I should have made the move in my walk year, but I did. I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing. I thank God, I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization, I mean, it's just been very incredible."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Britton escapes: A huge 9-4-2 play easily nabbed Tocci at the plate, as right fielder Mark Trumbo started a great relay throw after fielding Andrus' two-out double. The game-ending defensive gem preserved the win and helped Britton escape the jam for his fourth save.
HE SAID IT
"I'm not going to sit here and jump up and down over a 4-4 homestand in the past, but comparatively speaking, I'll feel good about winning two games in a row before we start the break. … Hopefully, a lot of things will be a lot clearer by the time we hit Friday, but don't count on it." -- Showalter, on closing out the first half with a win
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rangers lost a challenge in the seventh inning as they argued that Rougned Odor was safe on a steal attempt at second base. The call stood after a 50-second review.
The Orioles are going with Dylan Bundy in the second-half opener on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET in Toronto because the righty missed some time earlier on the disabled list and is fairly rested. Bundy has struggled to get on track in two starts since coming off the DL and is 6-9 with a 4.35 ERA on the season. Sam Gaviglio will start for the Blue Jays.