BALTIMORE - Seven at-bats into his major-league career, 20-year-old Manny Machado was being pushed out of the dugout by teammate Adam Jones for a curtain call.
The Orioles' top organizational hitting prospect, called up from the minor leagues only a day earlier, Machado had just finished accepting high-fives from his new teammates after blasting his second home run of the day when he was coaxed back onto the field to acknowledge the ovation from deliriously happy Camden Yards fans
"The crowd here loves me," Machado said afterward.
So far, what's not to love?
Machado followed a 2-for-4 performance in his first game on Thursday by becoming the youngest player in Orioles history to have a multi-homer game in leading Baltimore over the Kansas City Royals 7-1 Friday before 17,277.
His second homer earned him the right to come back on the field and wave to the cheering, standing fans.
"I was thinking about that my whole life, about going out there and getting a curtain call," Machado said. "Second game in the big leagues. I just thought it was great."
So did Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who said he was looking at it more from a "city of Baltimore standpoint."
"That's one of those nights you're really honored and lucky just to watch," Showalter said.
At 20 years, 35 days old, Machado unseated Boog Powell (20 years, 258 days) as the youngest Oriole to hit two homers in a game. Powell had held that distinction for 50 years.
In a strange twist, both of Machado's longballs were caught by the same fan, 15-year-old Adam Corder, of Millersville, who had a seat in left field.
"That's crazy," said Machado.
Probably no more crazy than imagining the much-hyped Machado, ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the team's organization (behind pitcher Dylan Bundy) and the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball, could get two hits in his first major-league game and then top himself by a factor of 10 with a two-homer encore.
"Good night for him and it impacted the game a lot, obviously," Showalter said.
Machado's heroics overshadowed but helped make a winner out of Miguel Gonzalez, who pitched eight strong innings of six-hit ball to improve to 4-2. Omar Quintanilla added a two-run homer as the Orioles (61-52) remained 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and kept pace in the wild-card race.
Gonzalez was appreciative of the offensive help he got from the Orioles' rookie third baseman.
"I'm happy for him," Gonzalez said of Machado. "His first two in the major leagues. There's going to be more coming."
Machado's first home run came leading off the fifth against Luke Hochevar (7-10), a majestic shot to left that put the Orioles ahead 3-1.
"That was the best feeling ever," Machado said.
Of course, the feeling the next inning was pretty good, too. This time Machado was hitting with runners on first and third and one out. It was more of a line drive but it was another no-doubt-about-it shot to nearly the same spot, putting the Orioles ahead 7-1 and earning him his curtain call.
The young fan, Corder, decked out in an Orioles hat and an Adam Jones jersey, had to run a bit to grab Machado's first home-run ball. He gave it to the Orioles and received signed baseballs, a signed bat and the promise of a postgame audience with Machado. He said he was going to hold onto the second ball despite monetary offers for it from other fans in the section.
The Orioles won for the sixth time in seven games and Gonzalez got his first win in Baltimore.
Home had been anything but sweet for the right-hander before Friday. While he had thrown brilliantly on the road, going 3-0 with a 2.34 ERA in four starts, Gonzalez was 0-2 with a 10.08 ERA in two starts at Camden Yards. He gave up leadoff home runs in both, becoming the first Orioles pitcher ever to do that in his first two home starts.
He started off considerably better on Friday, striking out leadoff man Alex Gordon (who began Thursday's game with a home run off Wei-Yin Chen). That began a 1-2-3 first inning.
The only run he allowed can on Salvador Perez's solo home run to the flag court in right. He got out of two-on, two-out trouble in the third by striking out Mike Moustakas and then had two on with one out in the fifth before fanning Gordon and Alcides Escobar to end the threat. He faced the minimum nine batters over his final three innings, with help from an outfield assist and a double play, and wound up setting a career high for innings pitched.
Quintanilla's two-run homer in the second gave him the lead and then Machado gave him a nice cushion. Machado also gave the fans plenty to buzz about.
"It's a new era," Machado said.
While delighted with the early returns, Showalter tried to turn down the Machado hype just a bit.
"It's two games," he said. "He's off to a good start. He hit some mistakes and hit them well [but] he'll have the kitchen sink thrown at him and we'll see how it goes.
"But so far, so good."