Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado is taken off the field on a stretcher after injuring his left knee while running to first base on a seventh-inning single. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

In what had already been a disastrous month of spirit-plunging baseball, Baltimore suffered a blow in the seventh inning of Monday’s 5-4 loss that not only rocked the end of this season but potentially gut-punched the 2014 Orioles.

With one out in the top of the seventh, 21-year-old all-star third baseman Manny Machado crumpled to the ground after awkwardly hitting the first base bag while beating out an infield single.

Writhing in pain as the Tropicana Field crowd grew eerily silent, Machado slammed his helmet to the ground as the club’s athletic trainers and Manager Buck Showalter rushed to his side. Machado was eventually wheeled out on a stretcher and had an X-ray taken at the stadium before boarding the team plane for Baltimore, where he will have an MRI exam on his left knee Tuesday. The Orioles will not make an official announcement until they have results of the MRI.

“It’s potentially an injury that, you would think it would [end his season], just from the early reports,” Showalter said. “But let’s get everything in. But it certainly doesn’t look very promising right now.”

Showalter said everything is too preliminary to process.

“They took an X-ray and somehow they couldn’t develop the pictures. Had a little glitch there,” Showalter said. “I’m sure we won’t get a full diagnosis until we get the MRI back in Baltimore tomorrow morning.”

Orioles veteran Brian Roberts, who dealt with a gruesome, season-ending elbow injury in September 2005 as his career was taking off, said this about Machado: “My heart hurts for him.”

“That was kind of, I guess, the beginning of my career in a lot of ways that year. And to have it end darn near pretty close to the same time with a pretty dramatic injury — I just hurt for him,” Roberts said. “You don’t want to see it happen to anybody but when you see what kind of special player he is and special kid he is . . . the great part is he is 21 years old. You’ve got to find a bright spot in it as best you can.”

Machado’s wasn’t the Orioles’ only scary injury in Monday’s seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Wil Myers hit a blooper to right that second baseman Alexi Casilla dove for, catching the ball just as he collided with right fielder Nick Markakis. Casilla’s head smashed into Markakis’s thigh, the ball came loose and the tying runs scored. James Loney then ended it with a pinch-hit homer in the ninth.

— Baltimore Sun