The Manny Machado spiral is continuing downward, just when it looked like he might be rounding back into the form that everyone expects from the 24-year-old star.
Machado was hitless in five at-bats with four strikeouts Tuesday in an 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. It was just the second time in his career he has fanned four times in a game – the other occurring in 2014.
After having three hits in the first two games in Houston, the Orioles third baseman has gone hitless with eight strikeouts in 13 at-bats in his following three contests.
His average has dropped to .210 – his lowest since April 26.
“He’s the same person, we think, (that) is one of the best players in the game. I think it’s just a reminder to all of us how hard this is to do and how everybody goes through those periods,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I can name a lot of people. It doesn’t make it any more palatable or easier to take for Manny. Believe me, he’s got a lot of pride.”
In the third inning, Machado struck out swinging and slammed his helmet to the ground, a sign of obvious frustration for a player who seemingly is rarely in a prolonged slump.
“It’s frustrating for him. If you think it’s frustrating for somebody else, triple it (for Machado),” Showalter said. “Sometimes, you can want it too much. It’s a long process. It just doesn’t happen with one swing. And they pitch real well. They’re going to step on your neck when they think they’ve got you down, because they know you have, and will, do some damage again.”
Showalter said before Tuesday’s game that he’s not seriously considering moving Machado out of the third spot in the lineup until he regains his form. The manager points out that, despite the struggles, Machado leads the team in RBIs (25) and is tied for first in homers (10).
He just seems to be chasing more often than normal and that has resulted in striking out 47 times in 195 at-bats so far.
Showalter often uses the phrase that a player has “spoiled us” with high-level play in the past, so that’s why the struggles become more pronounced.
That’s specifically true with Machado, who is in a funk that is fairly unique to his splendid career, matched only by his slow start in 2014 after he came back from his first knee surgery.
It’ll take time to turn it around, Showalter said, but he’s confident Machado will.
“We’ve got to figure that out. It’s not just him. I know it’s a topic because of the level he’s spoiled us with,” Showalter said. “It’s not that easy just to say, ‘There’s a single to right and everything’s going to fine. There’s a bloop hit and everything’s going to be fine.’ This is not a quick-fix business.”