The Orioles had two batters log five hits in a game within the course of two days this past week. Nelson Cruz went 5-for-5 in a 7-4 win against the Red Sox. Manny Machado then followed suit with a 5-for-6 night at the plate in Monday’s 8-2 win against the Nationals. Both players fell one hit short of the team record, which Cal Ripken Jr. established on June 13, 1999 at Atlanta. Had Cruz and Machado been playing at home, they would have matched the team record for most hits in a home game, which has been done nine times, most recently by Miguel Tejada on July 9, 2005.
Overall, nearly 80 Orioles batters have tallied five hits in a game. The accomplishment isn’t altogether uncommon, but it remains impressive and rarely happens twice in such a short time frame. The two most recent O’s to do it prior to Cruz and Machado were Nick Markakis on July 3, 2011 versus Atlanta and J.J. Hardy on May 6, 2012 versus Boston (aka The Chris Davis Pitching Game). Hardy’s fifth hit, a double, came in the top of the 17th inning of that regular season classic.
Perhaps the most memorable five-hit outing in Orioles history belongs to a 1984 Orioles Hall of Fame inductee and eight-time Gold Glove winner, the late Paul Blair.
Blair was the first player in baseball to have five hits in a single postseason game. Blair went 5-for-6 with two doubles and a home run in Game 3 of the 1969 American League Championship Series versus the Minnesota Twins. Blair’s offensive show led the O’s to a series clinching 11-2 victory. Blair totaled a .400 average and a 1.204 OPS, second only to Frank Robinson’s 1.217 OPS. There was no ALCS MVP awarded until 1980.
Five other players have since matched Blair’s postseason efforts: Paul Molitor went 5-for-6 for the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series; Marquis Grissom went 5-for-5 for the Atlanta Braves in the 1995 National League Division Series; Mike Stanley was 5-for-6 for the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 1999 American League Division Series; Hideki Matsui was 5-for-6 with two home runs and two doubles in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS; and Derek Jeter went 5-for-5 with a home run and two doubles in the 2006 ALDS.
Here’s hoping Cruz, Machado, Hardy, Markakis and the rest of the O’s lineup have a crack at matching Blair’s five-hit effort in the postseason.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.