ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Everyone talks about the great plays Manny Machado makes. Sometimes, his hitting goes relatively unappreciated.
It’s hard to believe that someone with Machado’s stats—34 home runs, 90 RBIs and a .306 average can be overlooked.
On Tuesday night, Machado hit his third grand slam home run of the season, and drove in five runs to lead the Orioles to an 11-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 12,207 at Tropicana Field.
The win was the Orioles’ fourth in the last five games, and put them within one game of the AL East lead.
Machado’s grand slam keyed a six-run fourth, the second big inning as in as many nights for the Orioles.
“When they start talking about MVPs, they’ve got to talk about him, too,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s been an honor to watch him play every day.”
The Orioles (76-62) had 14 hits and three home runs. Besides Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones homered. Davis left the game with a sore left hand in the fifth inning, three innings after he hit his 35th home run.
Davis, whose hand has been bothering him since April, will try and play Wednesday.
“It’s pretty much been bothering me all season, but you keep playing through it,” Davis said. “Some days it hurts, some days it hurts more.”
With the game tied at 1, the Orioles scored six runs in the fourth off Jake Odorizzi (9-6) to take a 7-1 lead.
Machado’s grand slam was the big hit and J.J. Hardy had a two-run double.
Davis hit his 35th home run of the year with one out in the second to tie the score at 1.
Yovani Gallardo allowed two runs, one unearned in five innings to get just his second win in his last 13 starts.
Gallardo (5-7) gave up a leadoff home run to Logan Forsythe in the first. It was Forsythe’s 18th, and was the second straight time Gallardo allowed a leadoff home run. Toronto’s Jose Bautista hit a first pitch home run off Gallardo on Aug. 31.
Tampa Bay (58-79), which fired its hitting coach Derek Shelton, earlier in the day, again looked listless on offense.
Davis singled to lead off the fifth. With one out, Matt Wieters walked and Jonathan Schoop was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Hardy doubled to score Davis for a 3-1 lead. Pedro Alvarez walked with two outs to load the bases, and Machado hit his 34th home run.
“We're playing small ball. We're not just hitting homers and driving in a couple runs. Guys are getting on base hitting singles, doubles, doing the little things that give us opportunities to have that big inning. I think people are overlooking how well we are executing and hitting in key situations,” Machado said.
Gallardo allowed an unearned run in the fourth when Machado was charged with a throwing error in an attempt to get Brad Miller.
Brian Duensing, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Monday, pitched a scoreless sixth. Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart and Tommy Hunter combined for three scoreless innings.
Machado and the other players are watching Boston and Toronto.
“We come in here and the games are on. We know what's going on on the other side. Obviously, we want those guys to lose. We want to put ourselves in a good position. But at the end of the day, if we don't get the W, none of that's going to matter,” Machado said.
The Orioles scored on an error in the seventh, Jones’ 26th home run in the eighth, and RBI singles by Alvarez and Machado in the ninth.
“This is a tough place to play. You have to be a self-starter. You’ve got to get yourself ready to play because next thing you know, you can get ambushed. They’re capable of good baseball. We faced one of the best pitches in the American League today,” Showalter said.
“He had like eight pitches in the first inning, and before you know it…We had a lot of good at-bats after that first inning. I think we wore him down,” Showalter said.
The Orioles will go for a three-game sweep on Wednesday.
“Things are starting to click for us, we're starting to play as a team. It's been fun for the last couple days. It's been fun doing what we're doing. We're excited for the rest of September, and we're going to see what happens in the long run,” Machado said.
NOTES: The Orioles have 218 home runs. They have the second most in history, behind only the 1996 club that hit 257. ... Dylan Bundy (8-5, 3.47) faces Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.94) on Wednesday afternoon at 1:10 p.m.