We all know the negatives that inherently come with Orioles slugger Chris Davis.
The huge strikeout numbers, the stretches of games where he looks like he’s not sure what that stick in his hand is supposed to do.
But then he has a game like Tuesday’s against his old club, the Texas Rangers, in which he homers twice, including his eighth career grand slam, and drives in six runs in a 12-1 victory.
When Davis is on, he can hit the ball out of anywhere. When he is on, he can be one of the more fearsome hitters in baseball.
That reminder was needed, because Davis headed into Tuesday 1-for-14 with six strikeouts since coming off the disabled list Friday. An oblique strain cost him a month of the season, and the Orioles didn’t exactly thrive while he was gone – they were 11-15.
“People ask … (did) you miss him? You miss the presence a little bit in the lineup. (The opposing pitchers) know he’s working there and he’s got that potential to have a night like he had tonight,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s still about production, but there’s another cog in the lineup that guys have to really stress their way through as a pitcher. And, you know, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for very little breathing room where guys can’t coast and economize pitches and effort where they’re constantly having to go to the tank to get people out. So, you know, Chris does that for us.”
Davis said he’s been working to get his timing and rhythm back, and he felt like Tuesday was the first time he’s dome that since his return.
It’s obvious that this lineup is completely different when Davis is hitting like he has in the past – and not with the .214 average he dragged into the ballpark Tuesday. Davis talks about how the hitters feed off each other, but Davis is one of the primary players that sets the tone for this offense.
It was one game – one huge game – and we’ve seen that before in the seasons that Davis has struggled. But it does serve as a reminder of just how fearsome he can be.
One other thing about Tuesday and Davis. It was the first time in his career he has driven in at least six runs.
“I didn’t know until, actually when I went up for my last at-bat and the good people at the ballpark let me know by putting it on the Jumbotron,” he said. “You know, I think as a hitter any time that you’ve been working hard for a feeling or just working with one thing in mind, you’d like to see the result. Obviously, that’s not always the case.”
Two quality starts in a row
If the Orioles had just skipped the Chicago Cubs series – it looks like their rotation did – and began the second half against the Texas Rangers, maybe things wouldn’t seem so bleak at Camden Yards.
OK, they’d still seem bleak. This club is 44-49, and still stumbling around the Wild Card wilderness.
But the Orioles have to feel a little better about their last two games, victories against the Rangers in which their rotation delivered consecutive quality starts.
On Monday, it was Chris Tillman and then on Tuesday, Dylan Bundy, pitching on 11 days’ rest, allowed four hits and one walk in six innings for his ninth win of the season.
Bundy allowed a solo homer on his second pitch of the game and had to wiggle out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning. But was solid after that.
“The first three innings, I just felt off. I can’t really explain what was off, but something was,” Bundy said. “That’s how you get out of it, just going out there and staying in the game and pitching and trying to figure out things that work and make adjustments on that day.”
That’s been the most impressive thing about Bundy this season when he has had success. He’s been able to make adjustments as if here were much more experienced.
It’s something that has baffled other – older – members of the rotation.
Dang it, Nats
On Tuesday night, 33-year-old right-hander Edwin Jackson made a start for the Washington Nationals at the Los Angeles Angels. Jackson was with the Orioles for a blip this year, allowing four earned runs in three innings before his release.
The Orioles were Jackson’s 12th different big league team – one shy of tying Octavio Dotel’s record of 13 teams. He pitched well, too, on Tuesday night.
Jackson is still in the hunt for history, though. He previously played for the Nationals in 2012, so this time around doesn’t count.