As the losses piled up for the Orioles, Manny Machado was still one of the top offensive players in the game. And now that the club has finally started picking up some momentum, Machado is in the middle of it.
Machado had a two-homer, six-RBI game in the Orioles' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night that included his first grand slam of the season in the seventh inning.
The Orioles (11-27) have won three straight games for the first time this season. And Machado's 12 homers are now tied for second in the majors. He has homered in consecutive games for the second time this season, and Machado has four multihomer games just 38 games into the season.
"The team is helping itself," Machado said. "We're all playing baseball, getting on base, playing good [defense]. The pitching staff is doing what they need to do. We're never going to quit. That's what we have in here. As much as we're down and they're going to stomp us down there, we're going to fight until the end. That's what this team is doing, and we've been doing that lately."
Machado's grand slam was the eighth of his career, making him one of three players in major league history to hit that many before their 26th birthday. The two others were Ken Griffey Jr. and Álex Rodríguez. Machado turns 26 on July 6.
"Is it eight? It is?" Machado said. "That's a lot. In those situations, I try to get at least one RBI in. Less than two outs, you try to get one. Get the ball up. My mentality has always been, just try and get one. If you get one, don't get greedy for all of them. I'm fortunate to always get good wood. Glad Camden Yards is a good ballpark to hit at, too."
With the bases loaded, Machado is a career .359 hitter with an 1.137 OPS.
"We've seen him at some pretty high levels, OK?" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Machado. "It's been sustained for a long time. I don't know if there's such a thing as 'sustation.' Is there? But it's been fun to watch him. He's just been so consistent and he's really gotten comfortable, not that he wasn't, at shortstop."
Machado's eight career slams are tied for second-most in Orioles history — along with Chris Davis, Cal Ripken Jr. and Chris Hoiles. Eddie Murray's 16 grand slams are the most in club history.
Machado gave the Orioles an early lead with a two-run blast three batters into the first inning, taking a first-pitch slider from Rays right-hander Jake Faria over the left-center-field fence.
In the seventh inning – after Faria was chased from the game by a homer, a single, a hit batter and a walk – Machado cleared the bases by hitting a 1-0 slider from reliever Ryne Stanek over the left-center-field wall.
Machado's grand slam was the Orioles' second of the season. Pedro Álvarez's slam on April 6 provided the winning margin in the Orioles' 7-3, 14-inning win at Yankee Stadium.
Machado's slam also gave him his 150th career homer, making him the youngest Orioles player (25 years, 309 days) to reach that milestone. He is also the fourth fastest in team history to reach 150 homers with the Orioles (802 games), trailing only Davis (587), Rafael Palmeiro (623) and Frank Robinson (689).
"It's always a great accomplishment," Machado said about being the youngest Oriole to 150 homers. "I'm beyond grateful. Words can't even describe how exciting that it is, reaching that milestone. Doing it with this organization, doing it with the team that I've been doing it for, I couldn't be any happier. We came out with the win. [We've] been playing baseball great lately. At the end of the day, milestones will never be forgotten. I'm glad it happened here at home."