Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said he isn't trying to hit home runs, but they keep coming anyway.
After hitting just four homers in his first 50 games, Machado has five in his last eight games.
The latest was a solo shot Wednesday, part of a 3-for-4 performance in the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Washington Nationals at Camden Yards.
“Just trying to simplify the things and just make contact with it,” Machado said. “At the end of the day, the end results will happen.”
But his recent uptick in power has accompanied a generous boost in batting average, too.
Machado was hitting just .218 on June 11. Since then, he has raised his average to .269, thanks in part to his current 12-game on-base streak. He has hits in 22 of 31 games since June 1 and is batting .312 in that span.
“Manny has very quietly snuck up to .270 in a hurry,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That would be a nice thing to have if we could have him the last 70 some-odd games swinging it like he’s capable.”
On Wednesday, Machado turned on a 79 mph changeup from Nationals pitcher Doug Fister in the fourth inning, sending a towering fly ball over the left-field wall for a solo home run and his fourth consecutive multihit game.
Machado also singled on ground balls to left field in the second and sixth innings. The first one marked the 300th major league hit of his career.
“Everything is finally falling in place,” Machado said. “Finding some holes, which is a big part, and just trying to keep this going.”
Machado said his body “feels well,” and that he has grown more comfortable defensively after missing the first month of the season recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.
And even if Machado can’t continue this torrid pace, Showalter believes he’s starting a different third baseman than he was a month ago.
“You can tell he looks a little more confident and in sync,” Showalter said. “You can just see the body language of it. ... It's not always results.”