BALTIMORE—Didn’t you just know that on Manny Machado Garden Gnome Day that the Orioles third baseman would score the pivotal run?
Machado singled to lead off the eighth, and scored the go-ahead run to lead the Orioles to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels before 43,288 at Oriole Park on Saturday.
With the game tied at 2, Machado led off with a single off Joe Smith (1-4). With one out, Chris Davis singled sending Machado to third, and Jonathan Schoop lined a single to center to score Machado.
The win ensures that the Orioles (50-36) will go into the All-Star break leading the AL East. They lead Toronto and Boston by two games.
“It doesn't matter at all, right? Just make our guys and fans be able to look at the paper or the internet a little more fondly. I might even look at it,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“Obviously it's the end game we're after but reality, it comes back to you that if the season were to end today three teams from the American League East are in. And two of them are a streak away from being right back in it. Tampa is getting ready to get all their people back before we play them. But we have to be ready tomorrow. I'd like to get a win before a well-deserved break for these guys.”
Schoop, who has hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games was delighted to drive in his best friend on the Gnome Day.
“Driving him in on this day, Manny had good at-bats to get us going. With CD, Manny ran first to third and scored and we got a win. This was a big win for us,” Schoop said.
Brad Brach (6-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Zach Britton picked up his 26th straight save.
Brach, who’s heading to his first All-Star Game, is 18-5 in his three years with the Orioles.
“Good things seem to follow him around in a lot more ways than one. He's getting everything he deserves because it's what Brad puts into it. Very competitive guy. Expects perfection every time out,” Showalter said.
Yovani Gallardo pitched five shutout innings, allowing three hits and walking three before coming unglued in the sixth.
Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout singled to sixth, and Albert Pujols walked. Daniel Nava singled off the right field wall scoring Calhoun and Trout, and the Angels (37-51) led 2-1.
Gallardo has completed a sixth inning just twice in his nine starts.
Nick Tropeano gave a home run to Mark Trumbo to lead off the second. It was Trumbo’s 28th, which leads the major leagues, and came the Orioles 135 home runs, the most the team has hit before the All-Star break. Trumbo has homered in three consecutive games.
Tropeano allowed five hits in six innings.
Mychal Givens relieved Gallardo after Nava’s single, and got out of the inning without further damage.
Schoop and J.J. Hardy started the seventh with singles against JC Ramirez. Joey Rickard bunted both runners to second. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons made a marvelous play on Matt Wieters’ pop to short center.
Joe Smith relieved Ramirez, and before his first pitch to Adam Jones, he dropped the ball, allowing Schoop to score the tying run on a balk.
“I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. In the whole scheme of things, I’m all about fairness. What advantage was he trying to gain? The balk, to me, I wish we’d reexamine it. Because a guy drops the ball or doesn’t step off at the exact time, what advantage is he trying to gain? I see a balk when you’re trying to keep a guy from stealing second or you’re able to pick him off with a bent knee move or whatever, but if you really break it down,” Showalter said. “I like to think we’d have figured out a way anyway.”
It’s been a most challenging year for the Orioles, and for Gallardo, who spent about two months on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
“Of course, anytime you’re in first place, it’s always a good situation. As far as myself, it’s been a rough year,” Gallardo said.
“It’s just a matter of finding that good rhythm. It seems like to me that one inning. That one inning I have to keep under control. Being in first place going into the All-Star break, it’s good, but we all understand we’ve got a long way to go. We got plenty of race left. It’s not over. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and hopefully get that other victory.”
NOTE: Tim Lincecum (1-2, 7.50) pitches against Chris Tillman (11-2, 3.55) on Sunday in the final game before the All-Star break.