BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado wasn't satisfied with a career year in 2015. He knows there's another level. And the 23-year-old has given a glimpse already this season into what the level may be: as one of baseball's elite.
Machado homered twice on Sunday, including an eighth-inning grand slam en route to a career-high six-RBI afternoon in the Orioles 11-3 series win over the Oakland A's.
The American League Player of the Month in April, Machado is batting .350 this season and playing Gold Glove defense, regardless of where he's playing. Moved from third base to shortstop because of J.J. Hardy's injury, Machado adds two or three plays a night to the highlight reel, and he's shown no signs of slowing down.
"I'll let you make that, is it 'analogy?' That comparison. But so far he has," manager Buck Showalter said of Machado taking his game to another level. "He's in a good place. I like the calmness of the last at-bat. He didn't get out of himself much. I think he's come to grips with the respect that they have for him. It's no secret, and he's kind of using it in his favor."
Machado, playing in front of his mom and several other family members, put the Orioles on the board with a first-inning solo shot. Wearing pink cleats and with a pink bat, Machado sent A's starter Kendall Gravamen's 2-1 pitch into the seats. He followed that up with his ninth homer -- tied with Mark Trumbo for the team lead -- on a 3-2 pitch from reliever J. B. Wendelken in the eighth.
"It's being a little smarter," Machado said of his approach at the plate this season. "Going up there, looking for pitches I can do damage to. I'm going up there looking for a pitch I can drive. And obviously sometimes they pitch around me, and you got to take the walk. You got to know who is behind you. This team is so stacked up, they are not always going to want to pitch to you, or they are going to want to pitch to the other guy.
"You just got to be a little smarter at the plate. It's been fun, we've been playing well which has been that much better. I just want to keep playing well, keep playing defense and putting up more runs."
Machado's homers were two of six hit by the Orioles and marked his seventh career multi-homer game and first this season. Machado now has 24 extra-base hits -- including 15 doubles -- and is batting .425 (31-for-73) with 11 doubles, seven homers, 15 runs scored and 19 RBIs in 18 home games. He entered Sunday with the highest home batting average among qualifying American League hitters.