Even though he has never ascended to All-Star status, Nick Markakis has always been a personal favorite of yours truly. A calm, cool and collected performer, Markakis is usually overlooked when the topic of top outfielders in the American League is brought up.
Fortunately, Orioles fans have long been aware of his skills and contributions. Most importantly, his teammates appreciate and understand his value to the club.
The Markakis factor was in full effect on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago as the Birds beat the White Sox 8-2. The veteran RF was 3-for-5 at the plate with a HR and two RBI’s and made one of the top defensive plays of the year for Orioles.
With Baltimore leading 3-2 in the top bottom of the seventh and a man on, Chicago 3B Conor Gillaspie hit a shot to deep right field. Markakis made a leaping catch at the wall to steal a homer and preserve the lead. The Orioles would tack on five more runs in the top of the eighth to put the game away.
RH Bud Norris pitched seven strong innings to out-duel Chicago LH Chris Sale and improve his record to 11-7. The win extended the Orioles lead in the AL East to 7.5 games over the New York Yankees.
As for Markakis, he is now hitting .297 on the season with a .362 OBP. He has a 10-game hitting streak during which he is batting .415. After hitting only .231 in July, he is raking at a .415 clip in August.
It is safe to say that he has quieted any critics who questioned his abilities to hit at the top of the Baltimore lineup.
The Orioles are rolling and so is Nick Markakis.
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