Right fielder Seth Smith and third baseman Manny Machado homered in the first inning to stake the Orioles (29-24) to a quick lead, and right-hander Alec Asher bounced back from a short start to pitch into the seventh inning before handing it off to the bullpen.
“A guy like Porcello, and a guy like [Eduardo Rodriguez] last night and a guy like [David Price] tomorrow, a guy like [Chris Sale] the next day, if you’ve got a little pop at them early maybe, you better take advantage of it because they’re going to settle in,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You better take your pops where you can, and when you squander a good run-scoring opportunity off those guys early, it usually doesn’t bode well for you.”
However, it was left fielder Hyun Soo Kim’s fourth-inning double that provided the deciding run for Asher (2-3) and the Orioles. Asher allowed two runs on three hits, including a home run by third baseman Pablo Sandoval, in 61/3 innings before passing it off to the rested trio of Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach.
The win gave the Orioles three straight victories and four in five games since returning home Monday with a seven-game losing streak. With two wins to start the series, the Orioles moved a half-game ahead of the Red Sox for second place in the AL East.
“I guess that’s the nature of the game, but obviously, we’ve played better the last few games than we did the previous 10 or so,” Smith said.
Said Showalter: “We were due to start playing a little crisper.”
Such great heights: Even amid a season-long slump, swings like the one Machado took in the first inning are the only reminder of his abilities anyone could need.
Machado’s first-inning home run off Porcello was a towering ball that hit off the façade of the second deck in left field at Camden Yards, marking the first time anyone has hit a ball to the second deck in the ballpark since slugger Mark Reynolds did it on Aug. 7, 2011 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to Statcast data, the ball went an estimated 465 feet, which makes Machado the only player this season with three home runs longer than 460 feet.
It ended up being his only hit of the game, and Machado acknowledged even though it was nice to get a hold of one, it didn’t help him the rest of the night.
“It is [cool] to go up there,” he said. “That ball is way up there, but I think it kind of messed me up for the rest of the game — trying to do a little too much when that was a perfect swing that I did. I’ve got to try to go down and take it down a notch.”
Leading things off: Before Machado could dent an advertisement in left field, Smith started off the Orioles’ half of the first inning with a home run of his own.
Smith had been slumping until earlier this week, but had three hits and scored a pair of runs Wednesday as the Orioles offense heated up. He followed that up with a tone-setting home run Friday, his fifth of the year.
Forgot about Kim: Making his first start since Sunday and just his 18th of the season, Kim made sure to impact the game Friday night.
After a one-out single by second baseman Jonathan Schoop in the fourth inning, Kim floated a double over first base that somehow rolled into the right-field corner to score Schoop and give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
“That was a big hit,” Showalter said. “They were pounding him in and he cheated on one there and threw one down there because they were playing him in the gap. Jon got a good break, a good read.”
Kim went 1-for-3 to raise his average on the year to .250 with a home run and four RBIs.
Just missed, Mookie: For the second straight day, Boston right fielder Mookie Betts put a charge into a ball in the game’s opening at-bat and brought back memories of how he terrorized the Orioles a season ago. But again, center fielder Adam Jones tracked it down on the warning track to keep him in the ballpark.
Betts has hit several balls this series that looked like home runs off the bat, but stayed in play.