Manny Machado stepped up to the plate in the top of the 9th inning on Wednesday having hit just .176 (6-for-34) with a double, two walks and five strikeouts. Folks were beginning to wonder if he was ready for the two hole in the Orioles lineup or if Buck Showalter should move him down to build up the confidence/numbers for that spot.
Then he changed everyone’s minds.
Machado took a Joel Hanrahan 1-0 96 MPH fastball to deep left field and gave the O’s an 8-5 lead. It was a pitch that Hanrahan clearly overthrew, one that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was hoping would be low and away in the zone.
Machado connected on the ball as it traveled up and in and his quick hands made Hanrahan pay for the mistake.
In 202 plate appearances in 2012, Machado swung at 48.5 percent of the pitches he saw, including 33.2 percent outside of the strike zone. It’s a small sample size, but in 38 plate appearances in 2013, he’s cut the total swings down to 43.6 percent and swung at only 22.2 percent of pitches outside the zone.
Plate discipline will be the key to Machado turning into the power hitter the Orioles hope he’ll become. Despite the slow start, he’s taken the right steps to doing that in 2013 and part of that progression is making pitchers pay for their mistakes.