Manny Machado’s call-up Thursday night was one greeted with surprise, optimism, excitement, and fear by almost everyone in Orioles Nation. Then, he went 2-4 with a triple and a run scored in his debut. He played flawlessly at third base, albeit with little action. And some of the cloud of fear lifted. After Friday’s performance, a lot of fans are wondering why the O’s brain trust waited so long to bring the kid up.
Machado again paced the club offensively. Again, he went 2-4, but both hits were home runs. He drove in four, as the Orioles bounced back from an 8-2 loss on Thursday, to beat Kansas City 7-1 Friday.
Again, it was Kansas City who struck first. Salvador Perez went after a 1-out, 92 MPH fastball up and away from Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, and poked it onto the flag court for his 7th home run, and a 1-0 Royals lead.
The Orioles wasted no time coming back, though. Wilson Betemit, who has apparently lost his job as the Orioles’ starting third baseman to Machado, instead got the start at first over Mark Reynolds Friday. He led off the bottom of the second with a double to right on an 0-2 pitch. He moved to third when Nate McLouth grounded to second, for out number one.
Machado stepped in with a shot to knock in the first run of his career. Instead, he bounced to short, with Betemit holding at third. With two outs, Omar Quintanilla stepped in. He worked Royals starter Luke Hochevar (L, 7-10) into a 3-1 count, then got a straight, 93 MPH, belt-high fastball, and blasted it just over the fence in right center for a 2-1 lead.
2-1 it remained until the top of the fifth. Machado, leading off, worked the count—great to see from a young slugger leading off an inning. It went to 3-1. Hochevar got a 91 MPH fastball over for a called strike two. Then, Machado made the KC righty pay for a big mistake.
Hochevar hung a slider over the inner portion of the plate, belt high. Machado waited nicely on it, then burst the head of the bat through the hitting zone, lifting it high and deep…into the left field seats. The Orioles had a 3-1 lead on Manny Machado’s first major league home run. There wasn’t a soul at Camden Yards who believed it would be Machado’s last major league homer, but there probably weren’t many at the park who could have predicted just how soon the next one would come. How about, before 6 more outs were recorded?
With one out in the sixth, Matt Wieters drew a walk and Betemit was hit by a pitch. Nate McLouth drove a double to the left-center field gap, scoring Wieters for a 4-1 O’s lead. With runners on second and third and one away, Machado dug in.
Hochevar got ahead 0-2. Then 1-2. And on pitch four of the at-bat, Hochevar again hung one for Manny to blast. This one was a curve, 78 MPH, a bit more out over the plate than the pitch Manny hit for his first homer. It, too, was belt high. It, too, was drilled into the left field seats, where, in fact, the same 15 year old who’d retrieved Manny’s first big league homer, could also retrieve this one. A second home run for Manny. Four RBIs total in the game, and a 7-1 lead, which eventually became a 7-1 win.
Tempting as it may be to lay all the credit at the feet of the 20-year old rookie, we cannot overlook the efforts of the 28-year old rookie who took care of business on the hill. Gonzalez (W, 4-2) was terrific again for the Orioles, striking out five and giving up just the one run on six hits and a walk through 8 innings. Pedro Strop pitched a perfect ningh, striking out two Royals in the process.
Game three of the series pits Kansas City’s Luis Mendoza (5-8, 4.36) against Chris Tillman for the Orioles (5-1, 2.38) for the Orioles, with first pitch slated for 7:05.
- One thing easily overlooked in Machado’s first two games: His performance with two strikes. He is 4-6 with two strikes against him.
- Gonzalez has now given up just one run on eight hits in hs last two games (15 innings).
- Let’s not forget about the contributions of Quintanilla in this game: 3-4 with a homer and two RBIs. McLouth also picked up a pair of hits. In fact, the Orioles’ 6,7,8,and 9 hitters combined to go 8-15. They scored 6 or the Orioles 7 runs, and knocked in all 7.
- Despite another O’s error, the birds also flashed some leather, particularly in the seventh. Right after Nick Markakis dropped a foul pop, Riyals right fielder Jeff Francoeur lined a ball up the gap in right center, Adam Jones hustled after it and fired in to JJ Hardy, who’s relay throw nailed Francoeur at third. Why Francouer was heading to third base with one out in the seventh, down 7-1 is anyone’s guess.
- 1-5 in the O’s order…3-18.
- Another rough night for Chris Davis…0-4 with 3Ks.