Manny Machado, the exciting young Baltimore Orioles third baseman, was taken off the field on a stretcher Monday, after suffering a knee injury that looks like it will end his impressive 2013 season.
Machado grounded a ball to second base in the seventh inning of the Orioles' game against the Tampa Bay Rays, and beat it out for an infield hit. Or so it looked. He fell to ground moments after reaching first base, clutching his left knee. Machado stepped on the base wrong, his knee buckled and it instantly became one of those moments in sports that makes your stomach turn.
Machado, 21, laid on the ground while the Orioles staff attended to him. He was helped to his feet and placed on a stretcher — the fact that he stood up momentarily (with help) should be viewed as a good sign.
There's no word yet on the extent of Machado's injury, but with just six games left for the Orioles this season, there's a good chance we're not going to see him again. Not with the way his leg turned. The Orioles were holding on to very slim Wild Card hopes (4 1/2 games back), and they got even slimmer the moment Machado hit the ground.
This season, Machado leads the American League in doubles, and his 6.4 WAR makes him the fifth most valuable player in the American League according to Baseball Reference. He's also made a number of eye-popping defensive plays — the most famous of which is this throw from July against the New York Yankees.
An underrated Machado achievement: He had started every game for the Orioles this season.
UPDATE: After the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't give any definitive update about Machado's condition. He said Machado had an X-ray, but will also travel back to Baltimore to get an MRI.
Showalter said didn't want to play doctor regarding Machado injury. And didn't want docs offering opinion without MRI — Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) September 23, 2013
Buck didn't want to speculate on Manny being done for the season, but obv looks that way. Is his knee. — Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) September 23, 2013
Machado's injury was part of a tough day for the Orioles, who blew a 4-2 lead, then lost on a pinch-hit, walk-off homer by James Loney. The 5-4 win gave the Rays a four-game sweep of the Orioles. The Orioles are still, technically, alive for in the Wild Card hunt, but not for much longer.