I’ll admit that when the Orioles first said they were calling up Manny Machado I had my doubts. I thought that training a rookie third baseman (who’s natural position is actually shortstop) in the middle of a pennant race was a bad idea. Furthermore, it started the big league service clock on Machado; if they were going to bring him up they should have waited until next May. However what I discounted was that it was possible that Machado was ready to come up. Two home runs later, it looks like that might have been the case. Machado hit his first big league home run in the fifth, and then followed that up with his second in the sixth.
So…it looks like I was wrong. I’ll give credit to Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter; common sense dictated that this was not the time to bring up a prospect like Machado, however they went with their gut feeling. Granted he’s still only played two games, however the early returns are very promising. Seeing a prospect of his caliber smack his first and second career homers back-to-back was one of the most exciting things to happen at the yard in years (although it probably doesn’t compare with game 162 of last year).
Kansas City took an early 1-0 lead on a Perez solo homer, however that was short lived. With Wilson Betemit at second, Omar Quintanilla smacked a homer to right field, giving the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Quintanilla’s another guy that’s very quietly made his presence known since coming to the Orioles. He swings a good bat and he’s a good glove man at second. Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez settled down after the early homer, and gave the O’s eight extremely solid innings. Gonzalez’s line: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K. It’s worth pointing out that when Gonzalez first came up from the minors he was a bullpen reliever. The fact that he’s turned into such a solid starter and is able to go so deep into games is a valuable thing for the Orioles. Keep in mind also that the O’s still might have been feeling the affects of a 14-inning game Tuesday combined with a long outing by the ‘pen on Thursday night. So the fact that Gonzalez was able to go so deep into the game last night bought some extra rest for quite a few arms last night.
Obviously the story of the night was Manny Machado. He became the youngest Oriole to hit his first big league homer since another 19-year old did it in 1965. Ironically, that guy was in the ballpark last night, right up in the MASN TV booth: Jim Palmer. We also saw something out of Machado that we haven’t seen out of an Oriole in quite some time. After the first homer the fans huddled around the dugout wanted Machado to come out for a curtain call, but it never happened. After the second time the calls became too much, and he came out of the dugout and tipped his cap. That’s something that Oriole fans have seen out of so many opposing players over the years, and furthermore they’ve seemed so comfortable doing it. (Machado only did it after the second home run, and it was obvious that he didn’t want to come out of the dugout because it might take away from the game.) I’m quite sure that another guy named Manny probably even took curtain calls in front of “his fans” as a player for a division rival at Camden Yards in the past. But it’s been awhile since an Oriole has done that; the times they are a-changin’!
Tonight is a special night at Camden Yards, as we’ll see the unveiling of the Eddie Murray statue in left field. The ballpark gates open at 5 PM, and the ceremony starts at 5:15; all fans in attendance will receive a miniature replica of the Murray statue. I’m sure that Mother Goose could do up a decent nursery rhyme about Murray’s career – no, wait – a fairy tail is probably more like it! “Steady Eddie” is, in my opinion, the best first baseman in Oriole history. (My old man would argue Jim Gentile, however that’s a generational discussion I guess!) However perhaps more importantly Murray symbolizes the old Oriole Way, which takes us back to the magical times of yesteryear. Incidentally, these statues are being unveiled right as the magic begins to return.
After the Murray statue is unveiled the Orioles will send Chris Tillman to the mound in hopes that he continues his own magic that we’ve seen thus far. He’ll be opposed by Luis Mendoza, who was fairly solid in his last outing however he was left in one inning too long. It’s easy enough to say that this is a big game for the Orioles, but that will go without saying for the rest of the way this year. They’re all big games; that’s how it goes in a pennant race.
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