NEW YORK -- After the Yankees turned one of the weirdest triple plays you’d ever see in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 5-2 loss Friday night, the Yankees’ celebration was fitting for the act.
Left-hander CC Sabathia pumped his fist in the air as he ran off the field. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis jumped into the dugout for a round of high fives. Second baseman Robinson Cano, who started and ended the play at second base, skipped off the field.
By now, the Yankees know that this Orioles team is never out of a game. And when the Orioles brought the tying run to the plate with no outs in the eighth, the O’s definitely had another late-inning rally cooking.
But there’s no rally killer like the triple play, and Friday night's was a combination of divine execution with a side of luck.
With runners on first and second, Machado’s grounder to Cano was the perfect storm. It was hit hard enough to freeze the baserunners, but one-hopped easily to Cano, who flipped to Jayson Nix to force Nick Markakis out at second.
Nix then threw to third to get lead runner Alexi Casilla, a peculiar move with a three-run lead. But Casilla was caught in a rundown between second and third. Casilla couldn’t hold up the play long enough to allow Machado to get to second, and Youkilis’ tag of Casilla and throw to Lyle Overbay at first was quick enough for Overbay relay to second for Cano to tag a sliding Machado.
"The two lead runners made the right play,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It's a line drive short-hop. You can't go anywhere because if he catches it, then he does get multiple outs. We just made a mistake on the trail runner trying to get a little over-aggressive, a young player. But Manny's one of the reasons why we we’re in that game."
After the game, Machado – who had two hits and an RBI -- admitted he was too over aggressive on the bases. He said he wanted to get into scoring position for Jones – who has been a clutch hitter for the Orioles – but didn’t think at the time that even the best-case scenario -- a Jones two-run homer -- wouldn’t tie the game.
“Ball was hit hard, right at Cano,” Machado said. “It’s a tough, tough judgment call for the baserunners, for Nicky and Casilla. You got to hold on that, let the ball drop. They made the right play. Nix made the right play, threw the ball to third and I was just trying to get in scoring position at that point, let Jonesy come up to hit and change the game a little bit. It was a tough call. Tough play.”
But after that play, and knowing they’d have to face closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth, the Orioles’ chances of a comeback took a huge hit.
“We came real close there,” Showalter said. “Came back and tied it up. We did some good things. I'll dwell on those without becoming blind to some things we've got to get better at."