After the Orioles’ 3-0 win Saturday night, Manny Machado said it was just a number – and that’s what he should say.
Twenty home runs doesn’t necessarily have as much significance as it once did.
“Obviously it’s my first 20-homer season,” Machado said. “But it’s just a number out there.”
But it is still 20 homers. And it was achieved by a guy who just turned 23 this month. A guy who had never hit more than 14 long balls in one major league season. And, perhaps more important, a guy who is coming off consecutive campaigns that were cut short by serious knee injuries.
And that’s not lost on Machado.
“It’s awesome to be healthy. Just hard work pays off,” Machado said. “It’s been paying off and it’s been a tough couple years for me, but I’m just glad that I’m healthy and able to perform out there and give it my all.”
There have been younger Orioles to notch a 20-homer season. Cal Ripken Jr. and Ron Hansen did it in their age-22 years and Eddie Murray at 21 just to name a few that stand out.
But, remember, there’s more than two months left for Machado to keep hitting home runs. For a 23-year-old Oriole, the pinnacle would be Boog Powell’s 1964 season when he bashed 39 homers and turned 23 that August.
Hitting that number is a long way off. But the way Machado is playing right now, if he ends up with 30 or more home runs, it wouldn’t be a surprise.
“Manny, you can tell he feels good about his approach, even in batting practice you see it,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "And he’s been holding it for quite a while now. It hasn’t just been a week. He’s had some good hot streaks before, but he looks like a threat every time up there.”