These days, it seems that Manny Machado would rather earn bragging rights by beating a teammate in ping-pong inside the Orioles clubhouse than discuss his possible place in baseball history. He'd rather coax manager Buck Showalter, 35 years his elder, into getting more apps on his iPhone than affirm his chase of an 82-year-old record. But when the unofficial second half of the season kicks off for the Orioles in Texas on Friday night, Machado will resume his pursuit of one of baseball's longest-standing single-season marks. Machado has the best opportunity of any player in more than a decade to break Earl Webb's doubles record of 67, which was set in 1931 for the Boston Red Sox. Machado's 39 doubles are the most at the All-Star break since the Seattle Mariners' Edgar Martinez hit 42 in 1996, and they put him on pace for 66. And it's only a subplot that Machado just turned 21 this month. "Well, he sure is setting the standards high for himself," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said with a smirk. Machado's chase of Webb's mark will be one of the top storylines of the second half as the Orioles aim for another postseason berth, but it won't be the main focus for the club's precocious third baseman. "It's something I'm not going to think about," said Machado, who has played more games at the break (96) than all recent challengers to the record . "It's not my goal. My goal is to make the playoffs. To be honest, a record is a record. It's something that's set in stone. Don't get me wrong, it's a great accomplishment and I'm honored to even be in the race. But my main goal is to make the playoffs. I want to win a World Series with this team. ... "I'm going to be thinking about winning, and a part of that is knowing you're going to get your singles, your homers and your doubles. For me it's been doubles. Hopefully I keep hitting them and we keep winning at the same time." Still, it's difficult not to get caught up in the chase. Last week, Showalter joked that he was on the verge of asking the official scorer at Camden Yards to take away a base on Machado's triple against the Texas Rangers on July 10. Showalter said he reviewed the play and believed Texas center fielder Engel Beltre bobbled the ball in the outfield, so it should have been ruled a double with an error.
Manny Machado within reach of baseball's all-time doubles mark as second half begins
Baltimore Sun | Jul 17