Nationals Park is like a home away from home for the Baltimore Orioles. Half of the crowd is in orange when they’re in town. Players have the option of spending their nights at home.
It’s especially inviting for third baseman Manny Machado, who before Tuesday’s rainout was 9 for 14 in the three games he’s played in Washington. He was 5 for 6 with a home run against the Nationals on Monday night, when the Orioles scored six runs in the 11th for an 8-2 win.
Though Machado believes his success at Nationals Park is just coincidental, Manager Buck Showalter values a player’s numbers in a certain ballpark. Before every series, it’s one of the four statistics he analyzes when determining the lineup.
“I don’t know if it’s the memory — the association of good things at a place — but it plays with very few exceptions,” said Showalter, who said he took Machado’s numbers into account when he chose to put him in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. “I’ve seen a guy 11 for 17 off a guy, but you change ballparks and something happens.”
Machado credited the home atmosphere and fan support on Monday. His five hits were a career high. Showalter said Machado, hitting .261, has the best numbers of any Oriole in Nationals Park. Machado said he doesn’t pay attention to stadium-specific stats.
“If you put that in your mind, then it just makes it worse,” Machado said.
Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis said he long struggled in Detroit, and he never realized it until he had a good game there and someone asked him what had changed. He said looking up numbers of how you play at each ballpark would show insecurity as a player, but knowing that one ballpark suits you more than others might help with confidence.
“It’s more about a state of mind and how you feel,” Davis said. “If you know you see the ball well at one ballpark, and you know that no matter who they have on the mound, you’re going to see the ball well because you’ve had success there, I think it gives you extra confidence. A lot of times that’s what this game is all about. You can focus on the mechanics and the physical part all you want, but a lot of times, it’s between the ears.”
Right fielder Nick Markakis said every player has his favorite ballparks. Showalter said the Orioles “weren’t enthused” with the hitting background at Nationals Park, but Davis said it’s one of his favorites.
“I love playing here. I wish that we had an opportunity to play more games here,” Davis said. “It’s just such a fun environment, and I was saying that last night. I love the way the park is set up. Whether it’s a pitcher friendly or hitter friendly park, it doesn’t really matter. I like the feel of the park, and where it’s at. It’s a fun place to play.”