BOSTON — With half of the Orioles' 20 hits Friday coming from the trio of 25-year-olds Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini, it was the potential turnarounds of veteran sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis that manager Buck Showalter noticed were starting to make a difference.
Such has been the tease for the Orioles all season as they stare down the final 34 games of the season — what would it look like if the players they thought would be supplementing their offensive core but instead have become it are joined by those who have been displaced from the heart of the lineup?
The closer the end of the season comes, the less likely it will happen. But Friday was the rare night when everything worked in concert.
Schoop's four hits led the way and brought his batting average to a team-high .306, while Mancini drove in four runs and had three hits of his own to leave him batting .289. Machado's three hits pulled his average up to .268 with an .818 OPS — his highest marks since early this season.
All that meshes with what Showalter saw while diving through the statistics packet before Friday's game.
"I was looking today at stats a little bit with the team stuff and those three young players are really putting together solid years," Showalter said. "Every time we think Trey's getting ready to kind of be a little more rookie-like, he gets right back on the horse."
Combining those three's sustained production with that of Davis and Trumbo, who each homered Friday, would be a boon for a team that has produced only in fits and starts this year. Their 232 runs in 40 games since the break are the most in the majors, but it's still only gotten them 21 wins.
Adding more from Davis and Trumbo, along with the spark of Tim Beckham at the top of the lineup and Adam Jones' consistent bat hitting fourth, would make the lineup a nightmare. Showalter's hope that that is happening could be well-founded. Davis has hit .326 with three home runs in 11 games since he got a day off in Oakland, while Trumbo had two hits and reached the 20-homer mark for the sixth time in seven seasons.
If it stays the way it is, the Orioles are in no better or worse position than they would be otherwise — a top-heavy offense paced by their young talent with a thin rotation hoping to get hot all at once.
"We're young, but we learned from the best — Jonesy, J.J. [Hardy], Davis, all the guys who were before us and teach us the right thing to do, teach us the right way to handle business," Schoop said. "We're out there and bring the energy for the team."
All they can do is continue to try to replicate nights like Friday and hope it spreads.
"Hitting for whatever reason is contagious," Mancini said. "It really is and everybody swung the bat well tonight. It was definitely fun to be part of the offense tonight and help contribute to that."