Despite the vicious swing that Manny Machado put on Jake Odorizzi's full-count fastball in the fourth inning of the Orioles' 11-2 rout of the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night, Machado said he wasn't trying to hit the ball out of the park with the bases loaded.

"I'm just trying to make contact with it, drive a couple runs in," Machado said after hitting his third career grand slam to cap a six-run inning. "I know that the team on the other side, they're going to battle to the last out, so we got to get as many runs as possible to put us in a good position to let our pitchers do what they do. I'm just trying to make good contact and get a couple runs in."

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Machado's slam – which made him the first Orioles player to hit three grand slams in a season since Chris Hoiles in 1998 – was the most emphatic blast in a series that has seen the Orioles bats get their groove back.

"The guys give me the opportunity to come up with the bases loaded," Machado said. "The last couple days have been fun, we've been doing the little things to get on base and let one of us, myself, CD [Chris Davis], [Mark] Trumbo,  Jones-y [Adam Jones], get up with a man in scoring position. It's huge, because we're going to try and drive in those runs. It's nothing different, just get that opportunity, and give that one good swing."

These two wins have been characterized by the big inning. The Orioles' six-run fourth inning on Tuesday came after they opened up the game Monday afternoon with a five-run fifth inning in their 7-3 win over the last-place Rays.

When the Orioles' bats have gone cold, it seemed as though they were trying to do too much, but now the offense is getting back to the pass-the-baton mentality it seemed to embrace earlier in the season, realizing that the home runs will come in this lineup.

Having said that, the Orioles are playing a Tampa Bay team they should pounce on, especially with pivotal trips to Detroit and Boston coming up. But on Tuesday, they beat up on a pitcher, Odorizzi, who has had one of the best second halves in the league.

"We're playing small ball," Machado said. "We're not just hitting homers and driving in a couple runs. Guys are getting on base hitting singles, doubles, doing the little things that give us opportunities to have that big inning."

The Orioles entered this nine-game roadtrip with an unsightly 29-37 record on the road, and now have the opportunity to win the first three games before playing two serious playoff contenders.

"We understand what we have to do,"right-hander Yovani Gallardo said. "It's as simple as that. You can ask any guy in that clubhouse. We know we have to take care of business at home and on the road, especially this last month. We play almost every game in our division. It's important. Every game is very important for us and to start off the road trip winning the first two here, it's big. It's a good feeling, but yet again, we understand we have a lot of work to do."

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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