It has been a hectic season for the Baltimore Orioles. After going 15-8 in April and looking like a potential playoff team, the franchise swooned, going under .500 in each of the next three months.
With August approaching it looked like the Orioles were fish out of the water, gasping for some bit of life to bring them back into the thick of the playoff race.
Shockingly, that breath came, in the form of Manny Machado. Machado, who had struggled up until August and did not even make the all-star team, has taken off in the month.
Through August 30, Machado has hit a whopping 12 home runs in the month to go along with 34 RBIs. His resurgent play has led the Orioles to a 16-11 record and put them two games above .500.
More importantly, the Orioles are back in the playoff race, just 1.5 games back of the second wild-card spot held by the Minnesota Twins.
No player on the team has made a bigger difference in this resurgence than Machado.
Perhaps Machado’s biggest contribution came on August 18, a night where he hit three home runs, including a walk-off grand slam to carry the Orioles past the Los Angeles Angels. A loss would have put the Orioles four games under .500, and might have effectively ended any playoff hopes.
Instead, the self-proclaimed Mr. Miami flipped the script. In the third with the Orioles down 5-2, Machado blasted his first home run, a two-run shot to narrow the gap. In the fifth, Machado struck again, this time on a solo shot to make it a two-run game. Neither team scored again until Machado stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth.
With one swing of the bat, Machado won the Orioles the game and resurrected the team’s playoff hopes. While running around the bases, Machado screamed “let’s go” at the Orioles dugout.
His message resonated with the team. Since that day, the Orioles have gone 7-3 and are in the midst of a six-game winning streak. During the streak, the Orioles have outscored opponents by a whopping 44-17 margin. The streak included a three-game weekend sweep of the AL East leading Boston Red Sox.
Machado has certainly made his mark during that span, hitting three home runs and contributing four RBIs. There is a very good chance that he will win American League Player of the Month for August and with good reason.
However, he has not provided the only spark for the Orioles.
Shortstop Tim Beckham, acquired at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Rays, has been a revelation for the Orioles. After hitting 12 home runs and posting a .259 average in 87 games with the Rays, Beckham has taken off. In 27 games for the Orioles, Beckham has hit six home runs, knocked in 18 runs and posted an insane .393 average. Beckham’s ability to bat leadoff for the club has been extremely helpful as it allows Machado and Adam Jones to move down in the order to spots they are more comfortable at.
With Beckham entrenched as the leadoff hitter, Machado has been hitting second, followed by Jonathan Schoop and Jones. It has been a deadly combination for opposing pitchers as the club has scored 159 runs in the month of August, good for 5.9 runs a game.
Machado, Beckham, and Schoop who is second in the American League with 97 runs batted in makeup one of the youngest and most athletic infields in baseball. They also have led the Orioles late-season revival and are putting them in a great position to make the playoffs.
With just a little more than a month left to play, it will be interesting to see just how far the young birds can take this ball club. The starting pitching has been a huge question mark all year, but young right-hander Dylan Bundy threw an encouraging one-hit shutout last night. If the club can continue to hit like they have and the Orioles get some more starting pitching help, the team will be walking into October with fists raised.
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