A lot had to happen last night before Manny Machado could stun about 30,000 Red Sox fans and delight who knows how many Orioles fans looking on from the homefront and places beyond.
Chris Davis had to hit a massive center field homer. Ryan Flaherty had to get his first base hit of the year when he was down to his last strike on a 2-2 pitch. Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth had to work walks and McLouth, especially, took a few close pitches to get on base. But after the tying run scored on a wild pitch, that set the stage for a 20-year-old kid to do something special.
We had seen him do special things before. Heck, he tripled in his first major league game, hit two homers in his second and had three home runs in his first four games. He did all that while switching to a new position during a pennant race.
We already knew Manny was an amazing talent, but that still didn't keep him from reminding us again in the ninth last night.
He got a fastball from Joel Hanrahan on the next pitch after he had bounced a breaking ball for a wild pitch. Maybe the kid, who is savvy beyond his years, knew Hanrahan wouldn't want to bounce another pitch and would come with the heat. Either way, he didn't miss it.
The homer was an example of Manny being a clutch player, but also that his power potential may be emerging in front of our eyes, and here is some statistical evidence to support this notion.
In his first 44 games and 170 at-bats last year, Machado hit four homers. In 21 games, counting the playoffs last October and 75 at-bats since then he has five homers.
So that is four homers in his first 44 games and now five in the last 21.
Machado hit three homers in the final seven regular season games last season. He homered in one of six playoff games when he went deep in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against New York and he hit his first of 2013 in the season's eighth game last night.
So Machado homered once every 42.5 at-bats in his first 44 major league games and has averaged one every 15 at-bats since then.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Machado is homering at a faster pace in the American League than he did last season in the Double-A Eastern League.
He averaged a homer every 36.5 at-bats for Bowie and has averaged one every 28.2 at-bats since joining the Orioles.
Manny is must-see TV. He made an amazing leaping catch Monday and delivered maybe the biggest hit of this young season last night. When he's playing, don't get caught in the restroom or the kitchen.
I guess everyone is OK with him batting second now, right?