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Observation deck: Manny Machado earned the right to show off in Home Run Derby

Orioles' Manny Machado points skyward while crossing the plate after taking a pitch from New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia over the fence for a two-run home run at Camden Yards.
Orioles' Manny Machado points skyward while crossing the plate after taking a pitch from New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia over the fence for a two-run home run at Camden Yards. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Machado deserves to be in Derby: If it's early July, somebody somewhere is worried that his or her favorite player is going to get all out of whack after taking part in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

That's always a possibility, of course, because it's easy to fall out of a groove against major league pitching, but a berth in the home run contest is a reward for a great first half and it's an opportunity to show off for a huge national television audience.

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Manny Machado is having a great year and he's one of the game's top young players. He entered this weekend on pace to hit 36 home runs this year, so he deserves the chance to strut his stuff with the biggest sluggers in the sport.

Maybe he'll need to hit the mental reset button after trying to jack every pitch into the seats Monday night, but he has too much talent for an extended batting practice session to make a huge difference in his second-half performance.

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Jimenez's first half: Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez doesn't have a giant wins total to show for his comeback performance this year, but it's good that fans are getting to see why the Orioles signed him to that much-criticized four-year contract before last season.

When he is under control, he has terrific stuff and the ability to stifle just about any lineup, which should be obvious considering his 2.81 ERA, and his overall command is the difference between this year and the disaster that was 2014.

He entered the weekend ranked second among Orioles regular starters this year in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.06-to-1) after trailing every other starter by a wide margin a season ago. He still could be more efficient with his pitches and get deeper into games, but you could say that about every guy in the O's rotation.

Releasing Young: The Orioles keep running into tough roster decisions because of the lack of option flexibility in this year's roster, so it wasn't a huge surprise that outfielder/designated hitter Delmon Young was designated for assignment and ultimately released.

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Young had a terrific season last year as a pinch hitter and delivered the most exciting swing of the postseason with his bases-loaded pinch-hit double against the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. But he didn't fit quite as well on this year's club once Jimmy Paredes emerged as the regular DH.

He will be missed if the Orioles get down to crunch time and need an experienced pinch hitter late in the season, but he did not have a tremendous impact on the club's offensive performance during the first half.

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