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Machado makes clutch, thinking-man's defensive gem

The SportsXchange

Baltimore Orioles rookie third baseman Manny Machado made a play Wednesday night that wouldn't be expected from a 20-year-old in his first full month in the majors -- playing a position entirely new to him, too.

The Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays were tied 3-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the go-ahead run at second. Machado charged a grounder from the bat of Evan Longoria and made a pump fake to first. All the while, shortstop J.J. Hardy was charging to third, sneaking in behind pinch runner Rich Thompson, who rounded third anticipating a throw to first.

Machado, though, spun around and made a throw to Hardy, who then tossed to catcher Matt Wieters, who tagged Thompson in a rundown for the final out of the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Nate McLouth's long single gave the Orioles a 4-3 win and kept them tied with the New York Yankees for first place in the division.

The defensive play showed Machado's baseball instincts may be well beyond his 20 years, and that he has a knack for making plays in clutch moments.

It might also show that the former shortstop prospect may have found his comfort zone at third base, where his glove and arm have solidified the club's defense.

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