Markakis' night and the pursuit of .500

In the minutes after last night's game, in his postgame press conference, manager Buck Showalter was not ready to proclaim that Nick Markakis is out of his batting slump.

Showalter knows that one game - even one as strong as a six-RBI game for Markakis - doesn't mean he has turned around his season.

But it sure had to be a great sight for Orioles fans to see their right fielder have a night like that. Markakis hit his third career grand slam in the second and added a two-run double in the eighth.

The six RBIs is a new career high for Markakis and the most by any Oriole in a game this year. Markakis had six RBIs in his previous 27 games and matched that in one night. In the entire month of April, Markakis had six RBIs over 25 games.

Markakis ended a 21-game drought without an extra-base hit and he had just two extra-base hits in his previous 30 games before his big night where he had two extra-base hits in one game.

Will it be a breakout game for Markakis?

We probably won't know that for a while. Whether he gets no hits or three hits tonight, the tale on this probably won't be told for a few weeks.

Over that stretch we'll see if Markakis can begin to get back to his usual run production and follow up one huge night with more nights that look like the Markakis that fans have come to expect.

Meanwhile, here the Orioles are again on the doorstep of a .500 record at 30-31. They were 24-24 on May 26 before a West Coast road trip that dropped them five games under the mark. Now they could reach it again and if they do, hopefully they won't immediately begin another losing streak. A win tonight would give them a .500 record with exactly 100 games left to play.

With 11 wins over the last 18 games, the Orioles have dug themselves out of a hole again. They are also 10-2 over their past 12 games at home.

By the way, Orioles' second-round draft pick Jason Esposito had a big game Friday as Vanderbilt beat Oregon State 11-1 to win in the NCAA's super regionals, leaving Vandy one win from a College World Series berth. Esposito went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.

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