With their playoff hopes all but gone, the Baltimore Orioles can turn their attention toward finishing above .500 for the second consecutive season.
That goal will have to be obtained without the help of All-Star third baseman Manny Machado.Baltimore begins what could potentially be a very long stretch without Machado on Tuesday night when it opens a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.Machado suffered a serious injury when his left leg buckled as he reached the first-base bag in the seventh inning of Monday's 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay. He was in obvious pain while being treated on the infield dirt before he was taken off the field on a stretcher."I'm sure we won't get a full diagnosis until we get an MRI back in Baltimore (on Tuesday)," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said while acknowledging that "it certainly doesn't look very promising right now."Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who had a better view of Machado's collapse, had a more stark analysis."It's horrible," Maddon said. "Hate to see that. This young man blows out his knee, possibly."The injury overshadowed a fifth straight loss for the Orioles (81-75), who have fallen five games behind the final wild-card spot with six to play.Baltimore has batted .171 and totaled 11 runs during the skid, its longest since a season-high six-game slide May 14-20. Those offensive woes extend back further with the team hitting .223 and averaging 3.4 runs over the last 20 games.One bright spot for the Orioles was Chris Davis hitting his 52nd home run Monday to extend his franchise record. Davis, though, is batting .207 with 33 strikeouts in 87 at-bats this month.He should be happy to see the Blue Jays again.Davis is 18 for 58 (.310) with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 16 games this season versus Toronto. One of those home runs came off Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond.Baltimore needs one win in its final six games to finish above .500 for the second year in a row following 14 consecutive losing seasons.There's no pitcher the Orioles would rather have on the mound than Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.70 ERA), their most reliable starter. He ranks among the AL leaders in wins and opponent batting average (.239), needing 5 2/3 innings to reach 200 for the first time."I think the statistics snuck up on some people, but how well he's pitching didn't and how well he's capable of it in our circles," Showalter told the team's official website.The right-hander, though, has lost three of four decisions this month, posting a 4.28 ERA. He gave up three runs -- all in the second inning -- and seven hits over seven frames Thursday in a 3-1 loss at Boston.Tillman is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays this season.Toronto continued its seven-game road trip Monday with a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. J.P. Arencibia homered for the Blue Jays, losers in nine of 13.Adam Lind is batting .421 with four homers and 10 RBIs against the Orioles this season. His seven homers in September tie him for most in the AL.Redmond (4-2, 3.82) looks to continue his strong finish. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his last four starts. Included in that stretch was a 6 1-3-inning outing against the Orioles on Sept. 13 during which he allowed one run and three hits before Baltimore rallied for a 5-3 victory.He was even better against the Yankees on Thursday, yielding one run and four hits over a career-best seven innings in a 6-2 win.