Orioles’ Win Steaks Ends at Five, Machado Debuts in Loss
Although the Baltimore Orioles (60-52) snapped their five-game winning streak last night at the hands of the Kansas City Royals (48-63), it was still an exciting night for fans around the Inner Harbor.
Machado will most likely remain with the team for the remainder of the season, as he will be playing mostly at third base since J.J. Hardy has been so consistent at shortstop defensively.
Scouts have been raving about Machado and his five-tool ability for the last two years. The Miami native is just 20 years old and only three years removed from high school. He is the first position player under 21 for the Orioles to debut since Eugene Kingsale in 1996.
In his first at-bat of his career, the 20-year-old grounded out in the second inning; he came up in the fifth inning and he lined the first hit of his career in the right-center field gap and he legged it out a triple. In the seventh inning, he hit a slow dribbler to second base for an infield single and finally popped out in the last inning.
Overall, Machado put together an impressive debut hitting out of the ninth position in the batting order. All the hype has been surrounding Bryce Harper and his debut this season. Well, now Harper is struggling and it’s time for another young star to help his team with their playoff push.
Other than the buzz hovering over Machado, there was not much to cheer about during last night’s loss at the hands of the Royals.
Wei-Yin Chen (10-7, 3.79 ERA) took the mound for the Birds in search of his 11th win of the year, but he failed to last five innings for the first time since July 8th against the Angels as he turned in his worst career outing.
Chen tossed 4.2 innings, surrendered seven earned runs on nine base hits, including two-first inning home runs as he suffered his seventh loss of the year.
Out of the gate, the Royals pounced on Chen. Alex Gordon led off the game with a solo home run to the seats in right field. Billy Butler added his 23rd home run of the season, a three-run shot, as Kansas City posted a crooked four spot on the board before the Orioles even came to bat.
Butler stole the show away from the up-and-coming Machado; he went 3-for-5 with three RBI and almost finished as the seventh Royal in MLB history to hit for the cycle. Except, he was unable to pick up the most common facet of the cycle as he launched a home run, double and a triple.
One of the reasons why the Birds called up Machado this season, as opposed to waiting for the beginning of 2013, has been their inconsistency at the dish as their team batting average has dropped to .245 on the year..
Last night was no different, unfortunately. Nick Markakis drove in his 39th RBI of the year on his fourth sacrifice fly and Matt Wieters added his 16th home run, which is his third in the last three games.
After three successful series in which the Orioles won seven of nine, including a dominating sweep of the Mariners earlier this week, the black and orange were riding high until the Royals made their way into Oriole Park.
This season against the Royals, the Birds have gone 3-2; Baltimore swept a short, two-game series in Kansas City in May, and then the Royals returned the favor by taking 2-of-3 at Camden Yards at the end of the month.
This series is the last between the two teams for the rest of the year, and it is a four-game set. In tonight’s contest, the Royals will send Luke Hochevar (7-9, 5.04 ERA) to the hill as he tries to build on his strong outing last start.
Against the Rangers in August 5 th, he the Royals righty tossed six strong innings. He allowed just one earned run on four base hits, including one walk and four strikeouts.
In eight career starts against the Birds, he sports a 1-5 record with a 6.08 ERA. In four starts at Camden Yards, he is winless at 0-3 with an inflated 7.99 ERA.
The Orioles will counter with rookie Miguel Gonzalez (3-2, 3.80 ERA), who has never faced the Royals in his young career. He looks to build on his magnificent start against the Rays when he tossed seven scoreless innings, but received a no-decision as the game went into extra innings.
In 17 career games at Camden Yards, Butler is hitting .366 with five home runs and 14 RBI. He is definitely the hitter to watch in the Royals lineup.
Since 2007, the Orioles sport a 26-18 record against the Royals and at home, the Orioles have won 13 of the last 21 games (13-10 at Kauffman Stadium).
Obviously, each series is must-win at this point in the season. Teams are addressing last minute needs on their rosters as September nears and at this point, it’s all about the playoff race.
But, these series in which you’re playing a team under .500 and who have played well over the last couple of seasons, you have to win the series. Unfortunately, that’s a difficult task now as the Birds have to win the final three games of the year against the Royals, but that’s what they need to do if they are planning on making a run for October.
Check out the Orioles and Royals at 7pm at Camden Yards.
By: Alex Van Rees
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