On Aug. 9, the Baltimore Orioles welcomed 20-year-old Manny Machado to the Major Leagues and then promptly got beaten fairly badly by the Royals, 8-2. The loss pushed the O's to 5 1/2 games out of first in the American League East and imprinted their run differential for the season at a minus 53.
Since then, the club has gone 31-15 with a winning percentage that is tied for the best in the Majors. During that stretch they also scored the second-most runs in the AL, allowed the third fewest in the league and generated a superb run differential of a plus 61.
In a 2012 season that has been so notable for the historic seasons being authored by young players such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, Machado is adding his own particular story to this overall narrative as he helps push the Orioles to win after win after win in their quest for a most remarkable march toward a postseason finish line.
Saturday, Machado hit a go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the seventh and the Orioles defeated the Red Sox, 4-3.
With the victory, Baltimore moved into a tie with the Yankees for first place in the AL East and the top spot in the AL Wild card race. Baltimore and New York own identical 91-67 records. Oakland, at 90-68, is holding down the second AL Wild Card spot.
The Orioles improved to 28-9 (.757) in one-run games. According to Baltimore's press notes, the 1981 O's, who were 21-7 (.750) in one-run contests, own the highest winning percentage in team history in these contests.
In the Tigers' 6-4 win over the Twins, Miguel Cabrera went 1-for-4 with a three-run homer -- his 43rd long ball of the season. The home run tied Cabrera with Josh Hamilton for the AL lead in that category. Cabrera also owns a six-point lead over Trout in the batting race and leads the league with 136 RBIs, 11 ahead of his nearest competitor, Hamilton.
Justin Verlander allowed one unearned run in seven innings, struck out eight and improved to 17-8. Verlander, who leads the AL in K's, innings, complete games and ERA+, has won at least 17 games in six of his first eight seasons. Among pitchers who began their respective careers in the live-ball era, Verlander is one of nine to be able to make that claim.
Brandon Moss hit a game-ending, three-run home run to give the Athletics a come-from-behind, 10-inning, 7-4 victory over the Mariners. Oakland trailed 4-1 after seven innings before getting one in the eighth on a Moss double, and two in the ninth on a Josh Donaldson home run.
Moss' game-ending clout was Oakland's 14th walk-off win of the season -- the most in the Majors. The 14 are broken down as such: six home runs, three singles, a double, three sacrifice flies and a hit-by-pitch. The six walk-off home runs are the most for the club since the 2004 team had six.
Saturday's win was the first in which Oakland hit both a game-tying home run in the ninth and walk-off long ball in extra innings since July 10, 2008, also against the Mariners.
Moss' homer gave him 21 in 282 plate appearances, for a home run percentage of 7.45. In Athletics history, the only players to hit at least 20 home runs and finish the season with a better home run percentage were Jimmie Foxx in 1932 and Mark McGwire in '87, '95, '96 and '97.
The win gave the Athletics 90 victories for the first time since they won the AL West in 2006 with a 93-69 mark.
Andrew McCutchen hit a game-ending solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Pirates a 2-1 win over the Reds. McCutchen has 31 home runs and is hitting .329. No Pirates player has ever finished a season with that many homers and that high of an average.
McCutchen leads the National League in hits (191) and runs (107). No Pirates player has done that since Paul Waner in 1934.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his 36th home run of the season and 92nd of his career. The 92 moved him past Ted Williams and Bob Horner for sole possession of the sixth-highest total in history for a player through his age-22 season.
Stanton's 36 this season have come in 484 plate appearances, for a home run percentage of 7.44. Among all players in history to qualify for a batting title in an age-22 or younger season (it will be close for Stanton), that percentage would be the second highest. In 1964, Boog Powell -- playing in his age-22 season -- finished with 39 home runs in 506 plate appearances, for a percentage of 7.71.
Chase Headley hit his 30th home run and drove in three to increase his RBI total to 112 (tied for the NL lead). Headley is one of six active players to have a 30-homer, 100-RBI, 80-walk season as a third baseman. Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez each have five, David Wright has two, and Headley, Jim Thome and Scott Rolen each have one.
Headley has reached base safely in 142 games, tying Tony Gwynn (1986) for the second most in a season for the Padres. Headley is two shy of tying Gwynn's franchise record, set in '87.
Hanley Ramirez had three hits and two steals in the Dodgers' 3-0 win over the Rockies. Ramirez's two steals gave him 20 for the season, making him a 20-20 player for the fifth time in his career.
Most Hits In Age-19 or Younger Season
Those five 20-20 seasons are the fourth most for any active player, with Bobby Abreu having nine, Carlos Beltran sitting at seven, and Rodriguez owning six such seasons.
Here and there
Bryce Harper went 3-for-5 and moved past Hall of Famers George Davis (1890), Al Kaline (1954) and Mel Ott ('28) to settle in the fifth spot for the most hits in a teenage season.
Matt Moore struck out four in an outing lasting 5 1/3 scoreless innings and set a new Rays franchise record for strikeouts by a rookie. Moore's fourth and final K -- Tyler Flowers to end the fifth -- gave him 175, one more than Scott Kazmir collected in 2005.