Orioles Split Series with Royals; Machado Does it Again…

It’s looking like things will be a lot different for Orioles fans in summer of 2012 than what we are used to as fans.

Rather than relaxing at the ballpark and waiting the season to play out, plus focusing on football, I’m now doing more scoreboard watching than ever.

It’s fun to watching some meaningful baseball in these parts.

Instead of being out of contention by now, the Orioles are thriving and winning. On a gorgeous Sunday in Charm City, the Orioles earned their 62nd win of the year as they defeated the Kansas City Royals, 5-3.

They are now tied with Tampa Bay for the American League Wild Card lead, and have the second position. The Orioles are in third place in the American League East, as they trail the New York Yankees by 5 1/2 games.

At this point for Baltimore, every game is a must-win. Unlike in years’ past, when the Orioles had a lead, you somehow expected the bullpen to somehow screw the game up; however, now, you expect the bullpen to hold down the fort.

They did that on Sunday as they threw four scoreless and gave Baltimore a chance to win. Luis Ayala earned his fourth win in relief, and Jim Johnson earned his 34th save.

Tommy Hunter had his prototypical start, as he pitched good enough to perhaps win, or lose…

He went five innings, gave up three runs – of course, gave up a homer – to Mike Moustakas in the 4th – and got out of trouble a few times to keep the Orioles in the game.

Baltimore used a combined team effort to split the series with Kansas City and of course a certain youngster played a role.

The legend of Manny Machado continues to grow as he put the Orioles on the board early with a two-run homer to center-field that needed to be reviewed by the umpires; thereafter, Baltimore would tie the game at three with a Nick Markakis homer (a solo shot, his 13th).

They would take a 4-3 lead off a Mark Reynolds’ RBI-single in the sixth inning and add an insurance run as Nate McLouth scored on a wild pitch.

Well, the more I watch Machado, he reminds of a much younger Alex Rodriguez before the infamy. The swing, the play in the field, and even down to the number (ok, so Rodriguez wore ‘3’ back then, as opposed to ‘13’ now).

It’s pretty obvious that he should be playing every day. The kid looks like a ballplayer, seems to have a plan at the plate – unlike some members of the team – and looks incredibly fluid in the field.

I know we as fans were looking for an impact bat during the deadline (in addition to pitching, obviously); however, is Machado the solution?

Right now, it is looking like Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter’s gamble of promoting Machado to the majors is playing off.

The Red Sox come to town for a series Tuesday through Thursday. Their struggles have been documented in detail throughout the national media this year, and the Orioles have a 5 ½ lead on them in the Wild Card hunt.

Would it not be fun to see them put away in the playoff hunt once and for all?