BALTIMORE -- A day after Manny Machado's peers named him to his first All-Star Game, he made a defensive play that had even manager Buck Showalter wondering how he had pulled it off.
In the sixth inning, Machado moved toward the third-base line and knocked it down and fumbled it around. Then ranging into foul territory, he regained control and made a long throw across his body to nab Luis Cruz at first base.
Cruz looked as if he was in disbelief when he discovered he'd been thrown out on the play. But Machado's Orioles teammates said they're not surprised by much from Machado anymore.
"We see it happen and it's not something that we expect, but we're starting to get used to it," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "He's done it so much on a regular basis. There's the plays you see that look unbelievable and then there's the plays that look routine to him but they're not, they're tough. So he's been pretty special."
Manager Buck Showalter routinely tried to downplay Machado's accomplishments last season and early this year. But on Monday he compared the young third baseman to legendary Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, and the famous defensive play he made in the 1970 World Series.
"I hope it's yet to come," Showalter said when asked for his favorite Machado play. "I hope it's that one where he catches the last out in the World Series. That's the one I'm looking for. Kind of like another third baseman that was real good over there."
The defensive play didn't turn the game, but it's becoming more and more common to see Machado impress with his glove. Sunday's play served as an exclamation point to the defensive turnaround the club has experienced since Machado's contract was selected last August.
Machado stopped short of calling it his favorite defensive play to date, offering simply that it was "up there." But he can be forgiven because the way he's flashed the leather this season, it's getting tougher to choose just one play.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less