Orioles slugger Manny Machado collected his 13th home run of the season on Saturday, tying the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts for most in the league. The league-leading knock came in the third inning, when Machado pounced on a first-pitch fastball from Rays right-hander Chris Archer and lifted it to center field to take a one-run lead.
The 407-footer was Machado’s fourth home run in three games. He belted a two-run shot off of Ian Kennedy on Thursday and collected another two dingers (including his first grand slam of the year) from Ryne Stanek and Jake Faria on Friday. Not surprisingly, he entered Saturday’s game with an AL-leading .354 average and league-best 35 RBI.
Following Machado’s blast, the Orioles improved on their one-run lead with a solo shot from Jonathan Schoop in the third and a run-scoring wild pitch in the sixth. They currently lead the Rays 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.
Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.
Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.