Baseball is not about one guy. Or even a few.
We all know that.
These Orioles don’t rely on one player to succeed (they rely on a bunch of them hitting lots of homers, but that’s a story for another day).
Still, the Orioles chances of making the playoffs would get a huge boost if the most important development of the past two days is a lasting reality and not just a blip.
The Orioles need reappearance of the Chris Davis they signed to a $161 million deal in the offseason. They need the guy who led the majors in homers in 2013 and 2015, the guy who hit .293 with a .409 on-base percentage in last year’s second half.
The last two days, we’ve seen that guy. Davis, who is batting .222 with 27 home runs on the season, has homered three times in his last two games, including twice smashing baseballs to Eutaw Street behind the right-field flag court. He had two homers Thursday – his first multi-homer game of the year – and the second blast may have been more even more telling because it was toward center and not a pure pull shot (though it was against an infielder who was pitching).
After the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter sidestepped the question about what Davis’ return to form could mean to his club.
“We pride ourselves on not saying if we lose this we are not going to be able to survive,” Showalter said. “If you start thinking the sky is falling if one person isn’t there…obviously, we know what (a hot-hitting Davis) could mean. But the weight of the Orioles is not around Chris’ shoulders. A lot of things will have to go well. Certainly, it will help our chances. But we can still be the last team standing if it doesn’t happen.”
They can be. But it would be a whole lot easier if Davis goes into one of his late-season tears.
Hardy gets 100 homers (plus) as an Oriole
When we think of shortstop J.J. Hardy, we think of how he has solidified the Orioles’ infield for the past six seasons. But we shouldn’t forget that he hit 22 or more homers in each of his first three seasons in Baltimore.
With his fourth-inning homer Thursday, Hardy reached 100 homers in his Orioles career. The blast put him second all-time for homers hit by an Orioles shortstop, passing Miguel Tejada. Some guy named Ripken is first with 345.
Just in case Tejada is considering another comeback, Hardy homered again in the sixth inning for his 101st.
Now that he is healthy, Hardy is having a resurgent year with the bat. And he’s always the glue defensively.
When I was writing my Orioles’ book in 2014, I did a chapter on the 10 most influential trades in club history – good or bad. And I listed the Dec. 9, 2010 deal with Minnesota that brought Hardy to Baltimore as the 10th most important. The Orioles gave up pitcher Jim Hoey, who appeared in 11 games in relief for the Twins, and minor leaguer Brett Jacobson, who never played in the majors. And the Orioles also got Brendan Harris (salary dump) in that deal.
But Hardy was the big fish. And he continues to be a significant part of this club’s success.
Kim’s big day
Hyun Soo Kim was asked Thursday whether he was more excited about hitting his first big-league triple or his first four-hit game. It didn’t take him long to answer through interpreter Danny Lee.
“Four hits,” he said.
Kim prides himself in his ability to hit and get one base. The triple may have been his most memorable moment of the game, though. It was his first since 2013 with the Doosan Bears.
“I wasn’t tired, but I was out of breath at the end,” he said, with a big laugh.
Kim is now batting .329 in his first season in the majors. It’s been an incredible turnaround for a player who was booed at Camden Yards before he even had an at-bat.
On Thursday, there was a trio in the stands wearing Kim’s Doosan jersey.
“It feels nice,” he said. “But how do they have those jerseys?”
He’s a hitter and a comedian.