Bombs away: Orioles tie franchise record with seven homers in win

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Chris Davis and rookie Manny Machado went deep twice apiece as the Orioles combined for seven homers Wednesday in beating the Blue Jays 12-2.

Baltimore remained 1 1/2 games back of the Yankees after New York won earlier in the day.

Nate McLouth opened the bottom of the first with a homer tonight, but it was then quiet until the fifth. That frame saw Jim Thome, Machado and Davis all leave the yard, giving the Orioles a 6-2 lead. After that, the team added another two-run homer each inning: Mark Reynolds in the sixth, Davis in the seventh and Machado in the eighth. Of course, they didn’t need a ninth.

It was the third time in Orioles history that the team has hit seven homers. The first was on May 17, 1967 against the Red Sox. Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Davey Johnson were among the seven who homered that day. The other time was on Aug. 26, 1985 against the Angels. Eddie Murray hit three homers and drove in nine in that one.

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.

Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”

Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.

I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.