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Manny Machado's walkoff homer a reminder that he's back

Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at Manny Machado’s strong second half, Rich Hill’s near perfect game, and an unexpected Gary Sanchez dinner.

Oakland Athletics v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Manny Machado's first few months of 2017 were not great, even if the Orioles managed to find some success despite his struggles. The third baseman hit just .215/.283/.418 through his first 80 games of the season, but managed to pick things up right before the All-Star break. Now, following a walkoff homer on Wednesday that moved the Orioles to just 3.5 games back of the Angels in the wild card race, Machado is batting .264/.318/.496.

It's not perfect, no, but he has more than five weeks of games left to keep improving that line. Machado has hit .352/.382/.636 with 12 homers in his last 42 games. He's clearly being a bit more aggresive at the plate, but it's just as obviously working for the 25-year-old.

He won't be able to completely repair the damage he did to his numbers over the first three months of the season unless he goes off on a Giancarlo Stanton-like tear for the rest of 2017, but so long as he looks more like the old Machado than the blip from the beginning of this season, his numbers will keep going up.

More important than the aesthetics of Machado's line, of course, are the Orioles' postseason chances. They aren't great — 3.5 back doesn't sound like a lot, but Baltimore is trailing the Twins, Angels, Mariners, and Rangers for a wild card spot while also sitting three games under .500. They have a 1.7 percent chance of winning the wild card, according to the odds published by MLB: that's not zero, at least, and having the dominant version of Machado back in tow is one way to improve your chances of beating the odds.