Nick Markakis continues to climb Orioles' all-time hit list with same lunch-pail demeanor
By By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun|
May 24, 2014 | 7:30 AM
When Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis slapped a single to left field in his first at-bat Friday night against the Cleveland Indians, he continued his climb up the franchise's all-time hit list.
Markakis was by no means finished. He hit another single to left in his second at-bat off Indians left-hander T.J. House, passing Paul Blair for sole possession of eighth place on the Orioles' all-time list.
When the night was complete, Markakis had his first four-hit game of the season.
"Tonight, I felt bad for House because he was making some really good pitches and Nicky was just dumping them into left field," Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said. "He's a very underrated player in my opinion, a guy who we appreciate a lot and value a lot."
Markakis has 1,429 career hits in an Orioles uniform. By the end of the season — when he and the club must decide on a mutual option to keep him in orange and black for 2015 — he likely will pass former teammate Brian Roberts (1,452) as well as Ken Singleton (1,455) for sixth place on the franchise's all-time hit list.
The five players ahead of him are so revered locally, they're recognized by their first names: Cal, Brooks, Eddie, Brady and Boog.
"Nick's one of those guys that you only really miss him when he's gone, when he's hurt," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's so consistent [in] everything that he does. I don't think he feels the pressure to do things from the leadoff spot that he might feel in other places, but he's capable of hitting about anywhere you want to hit him in the batting order."
No one will say that Markakis is a prototypical leadoff hitter, but he has fit in that role well since his test run atop the order in the second half of the 2012 season.
And he has given the Orioles a boost right off the bat. He's hitting .444 (20-for-45) with four runs, two doubles, one RBI and two stolen bases in first-inning at-bats this season and .361 (26-for-72) when he leads off an inning.
"We always joke after his first at-bat, 'What happened? Oh, he led off the game with a hit, weird,' " Davis said. "I feel like every time I look up, the guy is on base."