In lackluster loss, Machado is celebrated

In lackluster loss, Machado is celebrated
May 15, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Machado handling early success with class

BALTIMORE – The first quarter of the season is over. It ended with the Orioles being swept for the first time this season and Freddy Garcia pitching poorly.

Manager Buck Showalter poked fun at a question about the quarter point.

“It’s behind us. The good, the bad, the whatever. It’s part of it. This is an impossible game to be perfect at. I’m not going to get too reflective at the … that’s for the Preakness or whatever it is, where they go a quarter-mile and all that other stuff,” Showalter said.

The Orioles 8-4 loss to the San Diego Padres before 32,418 at Oriole Park on Wednesday afternoon gave them a record of 23-17, a pace that would equal about 92 wins, about where they ended last season.

A main difference between last year and this year has the emergence of Manny Machado. The 20-year-old prodigy had a career-tying four hits on Wednesday, three doubles and a single. He also hit into a double play

Machado  is batting .343, which puts him among the league leaders, and his 59 hits were the most in the AL. For the fourth time in his last five games, Machado had at least three hits.

“He’s fun to watch. I like his selectivity. I don’t know what’s going on with him hitting into a double play today. No, I’m proud of him. He’s handled himself well. Like I said, with a couple of our guys, I’m just proud of the way he’s handled the early at about the quarter-mile part,” Showalter said.

In his last 21 games, Machado is batting a sizzling .419.

“Personally, I’m real satisfied with what I’m doing. A little more adjustments to make,” Machado said.

The season has been a joyride for the young third baseman, who some think would be even better at shortstop except the Orioles already have a Gold Glover, J.J. Hardy playing there.

“You think about it in the off-season. This is your goal. You work out. You get ready for this long season. That’s where it starts. You anticipate it. You set yourself some goals. Then, when you’re here, it just happens,” Machado said.

Machado is just ahead of Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, the reigning Triple Crown winner, in hits, and it’s incredible that a player who was playing shortstop at Bowie a year ago is now demonstrating his ability, and not bragging about it. He’s even talking about how he can get better still.

“Some at-bats, some pitches I get a little lazy,” Machado admits.

In the new baseball world, there are ways of measuring a player’s value, and in one, Wins Above Replacement or WAR, Machado is leading the American League.

“We don’t think about the stats. You don’t think about [WAR] and all that other junk there is out there,” he said.

The Orioles are thankful they have him. Machado’s brilliance will take their minds off Freddy Garcia, whose lackluster performance started them on the way south.

Garcia (0-2) lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. With both Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez on the disabled list, Garcia’s place in the rotation may be safe—for now.

Jair Jurrjens is probably coming from Norfolk on Saturday. Steve Johnson and Zach Britton are there, too. And, Jake Arrieta, who reported some stiffness early in his bullpen outing on Tuesday, may not be far behind. There’s also Tsuyoshi Wada, who’ll throw his first official rehab start on Thursday after last year’s Tommy John surgery.

If Garcia wants to stay with the Orioles, he’ll have to do better. The Padres (18-21) cut him at the end of spring training, and the Orioles picked him up a few days later.

He dismissed their knowledge of him.

“They read reports, watch videos. It's another team. I've got to go there and perform,” Garcia said.

San Diego had 17 hits, the most the Orioles have given up this season. Evereth Cabrera had four hits and Alexi Amarista had three including a home run. Kyle Blanks also homered.

Showalter said that Garcia didn’t pitch crisply.

“He wasn’t the only one. We just didn’t pitch well today. What did we give up, like 17 hits? It wasn’t just Freddy. They had some good fortune, too, but they hit a lot of balls hard too,” Showalter said.

Jason Marquis (5-2) allowed two runs on seven hits in five-plus innings for the win.

Besides Machado, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones each had two h its. Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy had home runs.

The Orioles are off on Thursday and begin a stretch of 17 games in as many days on Friday against Tampa Bay.