Utility infielder fills in at 3rd base, goes 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs in finale vs. Toronto
By Ryan Baillargeon
BALTIMORE -- For the first time in 229 games, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado wasn't on the field to start Sunday. But the O's didn't miss a step as Machado served the first of his four-game suspension.
Ryan Flaherty got the start at third base and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored in the Orioles' 11-6 victory over Toronto to win the series. As he has throughout his time in an O's uniform, he thrived when called upon.
"He's always been able to give us what we need in a time of need," manager Buck Showalter said. "I remember the way he played down the stretch in the playoffs in '14. He takes it seriously, being there for the team."
After shortstop J.J. Hardy fractured his left foot May 1, the O's needed Flaherty to step up at third base while Machado moved to short. Flaherty only got a day to rest when Hardy returned Saturday, as Machado dropped his appeal before Sunday's contest.
While Flaherty struggled initially when Hardy was sidelined, batting .170 in his first 21 games played after Hardy's injury, he's found his stride in June. The Maine native had no multihit games through his first 27 starts this season, but he's had three in his past five starts.
"Flash has done it for us so many times, so to be able to get him up there, everybody has the utmost confidence in him," said catcher Matt Wieters, who went for 4-for-5 with four RBIs.
The O's don't expect Flaherty to put up numbers like Machado, but he helped Baltimore keep pace with the Blue Jays in the early innings Sunday. He tied the game in the second inning with a single and then gave the Orioles a 6-4 edge in the fourth when he sliced a double down the left-field line.
He even helped fill in for Machado's two-time Gold Glove Award-winning fielding at the hot corner in the seventh, when he made a diving backhanded stop at third and threw out speedy center fielder Kevin Pillar. Robbing Pillar of a hit was especially important as the Blue Jays added two runs later in the inning to trim the deficit to 8-6.
"Flash is really important for this team," second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. "Flash slides in everywhere if you want him, and he can do really good job with everything."
Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.