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Weekend Buzz: Orioles rookie Machado joins Trout, Harper as next young star


Manny Machado celebrates the first of two home runs in his second big league start. (AP)  
Manny Machado celebrates the first of two home runs in his second big league start. (AP)  

The Weekend Buzz, while you were saying goodbye to the Olympics (assuming, that is, that you ever said hello to the Olympics) ...

1. Man-ny! Man-ny! For months, the list of youngest players in the major leagues began like this: 1. Bryce Harper, 2. Mike Trout. Then the Orioles called up Manny Machado, who is three months older than Harper and 11 months younger than Trout. And who, based on his first four days in the big leagues, can fit in quite comfortably with both of them in terms of excitement generated.

In his first game, Machado had a single, a triple and a standing ovation.

In his second game, he had two home runs, another standing ovation and a curtain call.

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By Sunday, when he homered again, Orioles fans were greeting him in every at-bat with chants of "Man-ny! Man-ny!"

He's the first player in modern major league history with two homers and a triple within his first two big league games. He's the first 20 year old with three home runs in his first four games.

Oh, and he's got to be the first guy ever to hit his first two home runs in the same game -- and have the same 15-year-old kid catch both of them!

Machado, who grew up in Miami and has drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez, is making an A-Rod like transition from shortstop to third base. Except that he's doing it at age 20, and basically doing it in his first games in the big leagues (he played just two games at third base at Double-A Bowie).

Machado had just a .263 batting average in 219 minor league games, but scouts have long raved about his talent, and Orioles people rave about his mental toughness. He wasn't supposed to be in Baltimore this soon, but the Orioles had a severe need at third base, and as manager Buck Showalter told reporters: "We think he's our best option."

And as Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer joked on Sunday's MASN telecast: "Why did we wait so long to bring him up?"

Speaking of Palmer, he's the answer to another great Machado trivia question: Who's the last Oriole younger than Machado to hit a home run?

Yes, it was Jim Palmer, in 1965.

2. Even better at 21: Trout's birthday was last Tuesday, allowing Machado to take the title of baseball's best 20-year-old. .. and turning Trout into baseball's best -- and boldest -- 21-year-old. He drove in five runs Friday and robbed Miguel Olivo of a home run Saturday. But my favorite part of his weekend was when he went on the Angels' postgame TV show and declared: "We're going to get to the playoffs. I promise you that."

3. Showing up is half the battle: In his first six games after coming off the disabled list, Evan Longoria was a fairly ordinary 6 for 23 (.261) with just one extra-base hit (a double) and no runs scored. More importantly, though, the Rays won all six games to move into second place in the American League East and back into playoff position for the first time in nearly a month. The Rays are 21-8 in games Longoria plays, and 41-44 when he doesn't.

4. Dodger Blue, or Marlin blues? In his first visit to Marlins Park as a Dodger, Hanley Ramirez got booed by the fans and seemingly more or less ignored by his former teammates. But he also went 6 for 13 and drove in five runs. Ramirez hadn't had six hits and five RBI in a series for the Marlins since April 30-May 2 ... of 2010.

5. Free him or fire him: Last Monday, the Boston Herald ran a sports cover with the headline: "Time's up, Bobby." Six days later, the Herald sports cover read: "We need more of Bobby V." Well, which is it? It's complicated, of course, because Bobby Valentine is complicated. But the real answer is the simplest one of all. If the Red Sox believe Valentine is the best man to get them a championship, they need to stand behind him, give him a contract extension and tell any players who are complaining directly to ownership that all complaints will be heard in the manager's office, and nowhere else. If they don't want to do that, then time is up, or it soon will be.

6. Give me some time: On this week's injury report, CC Sabathia, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Paul Konerko all went on the disabled list, and Joey Votto had a setback that means he'll miss a week more than originally thought. Yes, injuries are unpredictable, and return dates are rarely certain. Remember that when you read that Sabathia's elbow injury isn't serious, and that he says he'll definitely come off the DL to start against the Indians on Aug. 24.

7. That's enough: Roy Halladay is finally starting to look like himself again, with back-to-back starts in which he has allowed a total of one run on five hits in 15 innings. The Phillies said this week that they don't plan to shut Halladay down before the end of the season, but one National League pitcher suggested they should do just that sometime in the next month with Halladay -- and with fellow aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. "Those guys have thrown a lot of innings all the way into October," the pitcher said. "It would help them to have a shorter year this year." Including the postseason, Halladay averaged 252 innings a year from 2008-11, while Hamels averaged 245 and Lee averaged 230.

8. New Lowe in the Bronx: If Wade Boggs could play for the Yankees and Johnny Damon could play for the Yankees, why not Derek Lowe, too? Lowe, released last week by the Indians, is expected to join the Yankees’ bullpen on Monday, just in time to pitch against the Red Sox next weekend. But here's what doesn't seem right: If David Ortiz doesn't return by then, the only member of the 2004 Red Sox who could play in that series would be Lowe -- wearing Yankee pinstripes.

9. Worth a somersault? One of these days, Aroldis Chapman is going to give up another run ... I think. The Reds closer had another scoreless weekend (3 games, 3 2/3 innings, six strikeouts, 20 fastballs clocked at 100 mph or more, including two at 103). Chapman hasn't allowed a run since June 24, hasn't allowed a run to a National League team since June 7, and over the last 22 outings has the following line: 21 2/3 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 45 SO.

10. It must be the uniforms (or the Brewers bullpen): As of Friday, the woeful Astros had no walk-off wins, and no extra-innings wins of any kind. Then they had a walk-off win Friday, and a 10-inning win on Saturday. Naturally, they credited it to the throwback (1994-99) uniforms they wore both nights. I'm thinking it had more to do with the guys in the other uniforms, the Brewer relievers who have now been responsible for 22 blown saves and nine walk-off losses.


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