Returning to Camden Yards far richer than when he left and sporting the dark blue colors of the San Diego Padres, Manny Machado looked back fondly about his time with the Orioles and acknowledged that he was nervous about facing his former team.
Machado had played in 1,025 baseball games before Tuesday night, including five last year against Boston in the World Series. So why the angst before a late June matchup?
“I’m never nervous, but it’s like a weird nervous, in a way,” Machado said, sitting in a room about 100 yards away from the field he called home for seven years. “It was just all different today.”
The uniform may be different, but the bat remains the same. In his second at-bat, Machado sent a pitch from Jimmy Yacabonis far over the centerfield wall, his 100th home run at Camden Yards.
Drafted third overall in the 2010 amateur draft, Machado broke into the majors with Baltimore in 2012 and promptly helped the Orioles end a 14-year playoff drought. With Buck Showalter leading a crew that included Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Nick Markakis, the Orioles became one of the best teams in the AL.
The fans at Tuesday’s game remembered. As Machado walked to the plate in the first inning, the majority of fans rose to their feet and cheered. Many were wearing Orioles jerseys with No. 13 and the name “MACHADO” on the back.
They applauded when Machado took a third strike because, well, they’re hometown fans. But the love affair between Baltimore and Machado ran deep — until they were driven apart last year.
With the Orioles heading toward a 47-115 finish, Machado was traded to the Dodgers in late July because Baltimore couldn’t afford to keep him beyond the 2018 season. Entering free agency for the first time, the four-time All-Star signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with San Diego.
“I think he loves it here,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “The conversations I had with him, there has never been anything but positives things to say about Baltimore, playing in this ballpark, playing in front of these fans. It probably has a piece of his heart for the rest of his life.”
Nationals 6, Marlins 1: Max Scherzer struck out 10 in eight innings and won his fifth straight start, leading the Washington Nationals over the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Tuesday night.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner also had two hits and scored twice. Scherzer (7-5) is 5-0 with a 0.92 ERA in his last seven starts and has fanned exactly 10 in three straight games. He allowed five hits and one run while throwing 71 of 94 pitches for strikes.
Trea Turner hit a three-run homer and Juan Soto knocked in two runs for the Nationals, who have won six of eight.
Miami had its four-game winning streak end, and manager Don Mattingly and shortstop Miguel Rojas were ejected in the eighth by plate umpire Mike Estabrook for arguing. Rojas struck out earlier in the inning.
Rays partnering with Montreal?
The principal owner of the Rays says it’s unrealistic for his team to play full time in the Tampa Bay area, and a shared season with Montreal is the best option.
“I don’t see it happening in St. Petersburg and would be hard-pressed to see it working in Tampa from what I know,” Stu Sternberg said at a news conference Tuesday. “This is not a staged exit. This is about Tampa Bay keeping its hometown team and Montreal having one, too. I believe strongly in the sister-city concept. We’re asking for open minds.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week the Rays have “broad permission to explore what’s available.” Tampa Bay is averaging 14,546 fans a game, lowest in the American League and well below the MLB average of 27,360. Only the Miami Marlins draw worse at 9,378.
“We are at or near the bottom in every economic category in Major League Baseball,” Sternberg said in his remarks at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.
An agreement between the Rays and St. Petersburg for Tropicana Field runs through 2027. St. Petersburg’s mayor has shot down the two-city possibility.
“The City of St. Petersburg will not participate in the funding of a new stadium for a part-time team,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “We remain receptive to partnering with the Tampa Bay Rays to redevelop the Tropicana Field site and build a new stadium for a full-time team.”
Montreal has been without a big-league team since the Expos left after the 2004 season for Washington and became the Nationals.