Machado O's redux: Ovation, landmark HR, win

Third baseman's 100th Camden Yards home run one of four Padres long balls

June 26th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- At some point during Monday's off-day -- when left his Baltimore hotel room and noticed a handful of black and orange "Machado 13" shirts in the area surrounding Camden Yards -- he was hit by a feeling he doesn't get very often.

"I'm never nervous," said Machado, who returned to Camden Yards as a visitor for the first time Tuesday night. "But I guess it was just a weird nervous, in a way. It's just different. It was always coming to that same clubhouse, walking through that same door, parking in the same parking spot, taking the same route to the baseball field.

"It was just all different today."

Well, it wasn't all different. Sure, Machado was wearing gray when he homered in the third inning Tuesday, as the Padres rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Orioles.

But the scene wasn’t entirely new. It was Machado’s 100th home run at Camden Yards, and he was once again greeted by a standing ovation as he rounded the bases. The longtime former Oriole also received thunderous cheers when he was introduced in the top of the first inning with a tribute on the right-center-field videoboard.

Orioles right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis stepped off the rubber, allowing Machado time to acknowledge the ovation. Machado stepped out of the box, waved his right hand toward the crowd and took a deep breath.

“Honestly, I wasn't expecting anything,” Machado said. “It did go above and beyond. It was truly special and something I'll never forget.”

Machado, who finished 2-for-4 with a walk, struck out on four pitches in the first. But two innings later, he reminded Orioles fans precisely why he’s one of the franchise’s best players this generation. Yacabonis grooved a first-pitch fastball, and Machado sent it 455 feet to left-center, giving the Padres a 5-1 lead.

It was Machado’s longest homer as a member of the Padres and the third longest he’d ever hit at Camden Yards. For the second time, the ballpark rose in appreciation of Machado.

“Just add another great memory at Camden Yards,” Machado said.

“That was great, man,” said Fernando Tatis Jr., Machado’s partner on the left side of the infield. “Coming back to the city where he started everything and where he became Manny, it was awesome to see something like that."

Even in defeat, the Orioles could appreciate the moment.

“It was well-deserved for a great player, incredibly talented, someone who has done a lot here and played a lot of big games here,” said Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde. “I thought that was pretty cool.”

"He gave the fans a ton to cheer about," said Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini. "One of the most talented, if not the most talented player that's played here in a very long time. ... It’s a pleasure to watch him play."

With Machado entrenched in the heart of their lineup, the Orioles put forth five straight winning seasons and three trips to the postseason. In his seven years in Baltimore, Machado was a four-time All-Star and a two-time American League Gold Glove Award winner. He hit .283 with 162 homers and finished in the top 10 of the AL Most Valuable Player Award voting three times as a member of the Orioles.

Machado helped turn around the direction of a franchise, too. When he arrived in August of 2012, the Orioles were pushing for their first postseason appearance in 15 years. When he signed his record-setting $300 million contract with San Diego during the offseason, Machado saw stark similarities to his early years in Baltimore.

Now, he’s the veteran, filling the role Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy filled seven seasons ago. Tatis, meanwhile, is the rookie phenom, and he also went deep Tuesday night, marking the first time the duo has homered in the same game.

“I've got to try to take my young team that we have here to the playoffs, hopefully, like we did here in Baltimore,” Machado said. “I feel like we have that same kind of group. ... So I'm sorry Baltimore, but we're going to have to try to win these next couple games.”

No apologies necessary. Machado's departure was one that made sense for both sides. The Orioles were beginning to undertake a rebuild, and with Machado's contract set to expire after the 2018 season, they dealt him to the Dodgers for a package of prospects.

At the time, Machado was jarred by the way it happened. He's said he'd like to have been clued into the organization's thought process a little more regarding his movements.

Machado is also quick to note that the circumstances surrounding his exit haven't soured the way he feels about Baltimore and the seven years he spent here. Machado raised thousands of dollars for charities like the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks "Play Baseball" program. He constantly speaks of his love for Orioles fans. Upon his return, he ordered a postgame spread from his favorite local seafood restaurant, Locust Point Steamers.

"Memories will always be memories," Machado said. "We had a lot of great times here. I built a lot of great relationships. There's always a business side of things that I've learned. Those are things that you can't control. ... There are so many relationships that I've built here that go above baseball.

“Those are memories you never forget.”

On Tuesday night, in his old stomping grounds, Machado made a few more.