video thumbnail

CHC@PIT: Morton holds Cubs scoreless over six frames

Mother Nature decided Manny Machado would simply have to wait one more day to make his 2014 debut.

Tuesday's rainout of the first of two games between the Pirates and Orioles pushed back the highly anticipated return of Machado, who had surgery in October to repair a torn ligament in his left knee.

"I'm here to play baseball," Machado said. "If it is snow, if it is rain, if it is whatever. I've been down in Florida with a lot of sun. So I'm just here to play baseball, whatever the climate throws out there, I'm going to go out there and play no matter what."

The rainout also pushed back the starting pitching matchup between right-handers Chris Tillman and Charlie Morton.

Morton (0-3, 4.35) has lost his past three starts, including a 5-2 setback against the Cincinnati Reds last Wednesday. He walked a season-high five batters in the setback while allowing four runs -- three earned -- and four hits in six innings. He'll look to get himself back on track and do the same for the struggling Pirates, who come in to Baltimore having lost five of their past six games.

"At the end of the day, the game takes care of those who take care of the game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of his struggling squad before Tuesday's rainout. "If you're not taking care of the game, it's hard to win. We've got to do a better job of taking care of the game and meeting those demands."

The Orioles have had a bit of a bad run-in with Mother Nature of late, as Tuesday's rainout was the second in two weeks for the team. They have also played 11 day games.

"This month hasn't been an ideal schedule for us, dealing with the night games and then the morning games following," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "It's been a struggle, but we're staying afloat. I don't think anyone is really pulling away. Overall, we've gotten past the pretty tough part of our schedule, and it's time to move on."

Pirates: Familiarity may breed contempt
The Pirates have waited a long time to play someone outside of their division. Wednesday night's game against the Orioles marks the team's first game against an opponent not in the National League Central.

Ironically enough, their first Interleague matchup is against the team they saw four times in Spring Training.

"We got to see them a handful of times in Spring Training. We probably got to know this team better than any team in the American League," Hurdle said.

Orioles: One star back, another to the shelf
The Orioles are of course happy to have Machado back, but his return comes at a particularly good time, considering All-Star slugger Chris Davis on Sunday was placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.

"I didn't even put that into perspective," Machado said of returning from the DL three days after Davis went on it. "It [stinks] that CD is gone; that is the heart of the lineup. Him being down, he's in the clubhouse, but just knowing he's not going to be out there -- I know he is bummed about it. I know he wants to be out there every day. But this was all up to me. It was my decision to come up here and rejoin the team."

Machado, 21, hit .283 with 51 doubles, 14 home runs and 71 RBIs in 2013, his first full season in the Majors, earning a trip to the All-Star Game and a Gold Glove to boot.

"Any time you add a player of Manny's ability and potential, it bodes well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We feel like Manny can contribute to us defensively if there are some [slow] periods he goes through offensively like all guys do. I think that is something I think we're looking for, some solidity over there at third base, as much as anything."

Worth noting
• Wednesday's forecasts don't look promising, either. But if the Orioles and Pirates avoid a second straight rainout, the original starters for that game could also be pushed back. Baltimore righty Bud Norris (1-2, 4.44 ERA) was expected to face Pittsburgh right-hander Brandon Cumpton (0-1, 2.57 ERA).

• Andrew McCutchen hit .375 (27-for-72) with seven doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in 18 games against the American League last season to help the Pirates go a Major League-best 15-5 in Interleague Play.

• Tony Sanchez has hit safely in each of his first eight games with the Pirates, which ties McCutchen for the club's longest hit streak this season.

• Baltimore's Nick Markakis has hit safely in seven consecutive games. His ninth-inning single on Sunday was the 1,400th hit of his career, putting him three behind Al Bumbry for ninth on the club's all-time hit list.

• The Orioles are 5-0 when scoring first at home and 0-6 when the opposition takes the first lead. Comments