Machado is hon­ored as team MVP

Gaus­man could start Tues. or Wed.; scout­ing D-backs was a chal­lenge

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Ed­uardo A. Encina eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard

To­ward the end of his best of­fen­sive sea­son and an Amer­i­can League Most Valu­able Player can­di­dacy, Manny Machado was hum­bled to be se­lected this year’s Most Valu­able Ori­ole. But be­fore Fri­day night’s se­ries opener against the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs, Machado said he’d pre­fer to help the Ori­oles reach the post­sea­son over any per­sonal ac­co­lades.

“The only thing that mat­ters to me is try­ing to take this thing to the play­offs, try­ing to get to the play­offs and roll the dice at the end of the day come Oc­to­ber,” Machado said. “We’ve got [nine] more games, how­ever many more in­nings, and I don’t know how many more outs, but those are the things that mat­ter right now.”

Machado re­ceived the an­nual award, cho­sen by a vote of lo­cal me­dia who cover the team, for the first time in his ca­reer. The award comes at a time when both Machado and the Ori­oles are strug­gling.

Machado hit .222/.271/.370 in his past 14 games be­fore Fri­day, and af­ter the Ori­oles were swept by the Bos­ton Red Sox in a four-game home se­ries, they en­tered Fri­day a half-game be­hind the Detroit Tigers for the sec­ond wild-card spot.

“At the end of the day, none of this really mat­ters un­less we get to where we need to be,” Machado said. “I think we’re go­ing to keep fight­ing un­til the end, and hope­fully the most im­por­tant thing is we make that last wild-card spot and flip a coin to see who makes the World Se­ries.”

De­spite his re­cent slump, Machado has con­tin­ued his pro­gres­sion into be­com­ing one of the game’s best play­ers. The 24-year-old is en­joy­ing the best of­fen­sive sea­son of his ca­reer, en­ter­ing Fri­day’s game hit­ting .300/.350/.546 while set­ting ca­reer highs in homers (36), RBIs (93) and runs scored (103).

Machado, who­has been an ALMVP­can­di­date through­out this sea­son, had 6.7 wins above re­place­ment in his first 148 games, tied for sixth in the ma­jors. A front-run­ner to win his third ca­reer Gold Glove, he led AL third base­men with a 2.1 de­fen­sive WAR.

Machado will be pre­sented with the award in an on-field cer­e­mony be­fore the team’s fi­nal reg­u­lar-sea­son home game Sun­day. Other play­ers who re­ceived votes were Brad Brach, Zach Brit­ton, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Chris Till­man and Mark Trumbo. Look­ing ahead to Toronto: Showal­ter said right-han­der Kevin Gaus­man, who is deal­ing with a mild in­ter­costal strain suf­fered dur­ing his most re­cent start, was feel­ing bet­ter Fri­day and is sched­uled to start Tues­day or Wed­nes­day on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Till­man, who had his short­est start of the sea­son Thurs­day night, go­ing just 12⁄ in­nings in a 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, would start on the day Gaus­man does not.

“It’ll be hope­fully Till­man-Gaus­man or Gaus­man-Till­man Tues­day and Wed­nes­day, de­pend­ing on a lot of fac­tors we’ll take in each day,” man­ager Buck Showal­ter said.

Showal­ter has not an­nounced when right-han­der Ubaldo Jimenez would make his next start. Jimenez last pitched Wed­nes­day, and his worst start of the sea­son came in his only start at Rogers Cen­tre, when he lasted just one-third of an in­ning and al­lowed five runs on six hits June12. Scout­ing chal­lenge: Fac­ing an interleague op­po­nent in the last home se­ries of the reg­u­lar sea­son presents its chal­lenges in terms of pre­par­ing for an un­fa­mil­iar foe. The Ori­oles have not played the Di­a­mond­backs since 2013, when they were swept in three walk-off losses in Ari­zona, in­clud­ing two in ex­tra in­nings.

“It’s just a real chal­lenge,” Showal­ter said. “I was here last night till late. Here early try­ing to get fa­mil­iar with a lot of things. Try­ing to fig­ure out if they’re in that find-out devel­op­ment mode or try­ing to put their best foot for­ward th­ese three games. You never know.” Around the horn: On Fri­day, left fielder Hyun Soo Kim made his sec­ond start in the lead­off spot this sea­son, al­low­ing the Ori­oles to slide Jones into the No. 2 spot in the or­der. … Showal­ter said be­fore Fri­day’s game that the team is un­cer­tain when left-han­der Jayson Aquino will be avail­able. He missed the pre­vi­ous two games with a vi­ral in­fec­tion and hasn’t pitched since Mon­day. … Rookie Trey Mancini, who home­red in his first two ma­jor league starts, be­came the first player to ac­com­plish that feat since Rock­ies short­stop Trevor Story, who home­red in his first four games this sea­son, from April 4 to 8.

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