Machado's injury final sour note for O's

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
6:47
PM ET
It's not a good thing when you type "Manny Machado" into your Twitter timeline and see major leaguers like Derek Holland and Will Middlebrooks and Chris Johnson and Billy Hamilton tweeting words like "pray for Manny Machado."

The Orioles' second-year sensation suffered an apparent knee injury when his left leg buckled after hitting the first-base bag on an infield single and he was carted off the field. You can watch the full video here.
[+] EnlargeManny Machado
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesWatching Manny Machado play has been one of the highlights of the O's season.

Obviously, it's a potentially devastating injury, not so much for its impact on the wild-card race -- the Orioles began the day 4.5 games behind the Indians, all but officially eliminated -- but for what it could mean next season for Machado and the Orioles. We can only hope he fully recovers.

Machado's sophomore season, and first full campaign, has been lost a little in the bright lights of fellow 21-year-old Mike Trout and teammate Chris Davis, but he's been one of my favorite players to watch this season, with his long list of highlight-reel plays at third base. After a hot start with the bat that saw Machado on an all-time record pace for doubles -- he had 38 doubles through the end of June, which put him on pace for 75 (the record is 67) -- he slowed down in the second half but still has a league-leading 51 doubles.

He had played every game for the Orioles and you have to wonder if manager Buck Showalter should have rested him a game here and there. He hit the wall in September, hitting .181 before going 2-for-4 on Monday.

It's his defense that has made him extra special, however. Orioles announcer Jim Palmer said Machado has made plays that Brooks Robinson couldn't have made. The defensive metrics agree with Palmer's assessment, with the Defensive Runs Saved statistic measuring him at +34 runs, the fourth-highest total overall and highest by a third baseman since Baseball Info Solutions began tracking DRS in 2003.

For the Orioles, the injury was sort of the final sour point in the four-game series against the Rays, with Tampa winning all four. Baltimore's season really ended on Friday night in that 18-inning loss -- a game in which Showalter somehow managed not to use closer Jim Johnson (as shaky as he's been), saving him for a save situation that never developed.

In the end, the Orioles need to score runs and entering Monday's game they had hit just .228 in September and averaged 3.7 runs per game. This Orioles team is probably better than last year's, but the bullpen wasn't as good and they've gone 17-29 in one-run games after setting the all-time winning percentage in one-run games last season. Sadly, Orioles fans will now have to live with the image of Machado writhing in pain on the fake grass in Tampa as the final memory of an ultimately disappointing season.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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