A few notes before the second half begins

A few quick notes and thoughts as the second half is about to begin:

* Chris Davis has homered in his last four games, tying his best mark of the season. He homered in each of the first four games of this season.

In the last four games before the break, Davis went 6-for-14 with four homers and eight RBIs. He has hit nine homers his last 15 games, 15 in the last 27 and 26 homers in his past 55 games.

Just as impressive, Davis now has 41 RBIs his last 31 games. A player driving them in on that pace would finish the full year with 214. He has 11 multi-RBI games over that stretch.

* Is Manny Machado scuffling a bit at bat right now? Maybe so, and it did look like Manny chased more pitches outside the strike zone over the last few weeks. Machado is 2-for-17 over his last four games and, believe it or not, has just one double in his past 13 games.

But at this point I see no reason to worry at all about the kid and certainly no reason to find a problem with his play. If he did, in fact, get out of his lane a bit at bat the last 10-20 games, I expect to see him right back on track very soon.

* Davis and Adam Jones take homer streaks into the second half. As I mentioned, Davis has homered in his last four games and Jones in his last three. Jones went 6-for-9 in the Toronto series with three homers and six RBIs.

For just the second time in team history, Orioles teammates have homered in the same three consecutive games. That first time that happened was from July 18-20, 1961 when Hank Foiles and Jim Gentile did it.

* The O's ended the first half getting four quality starts in their last five games and going 4-1 in that stretch. The starters ERA was 3.82 over the stretch.

* Davis' next homer will tie him for eighth-most in a single season in club history. Then he will move up the ladder chasing this list:

50 - Brady Anderson, 1996
49 - Frank Robinson, 1966
46 - Jim Gentile, 1961
43 - Rafael Palmeiro, 1998
39 - Boog Powell, 1964; Rafael Palmeiro in 1995 and 1996
38 - Rafael Palmeiro, 1997

I'll go out on a limb here and say the starting pitching will be the biggest factor as to whether the Orioles make the playoffs this season. Jim Johnson's performance will also be a big factor. What will his save percentage be down the stretch?

It will be fun to watch two O's chase history in the second half, as Machado goes for the all-time single-season doubles record and Davis goes for the O's homer record, and then will put hitting 60 or more possibly in his sights.

What is your take?: What are you most looking forward to in the second half and what will be the key or keys for the O's to make another playoff run?

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