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A lot of criticism has been hurled Chris Davis’ way the past two-plus seasons. And I get it. When you get paid a record contract (seven years, $161 million) to perform and you consistently don’t, you’re gonna get crushed (pun intended) by the Orioles’ fan base. By any fan base.
And Davis is particularly hard to watch when he is going poorly – especially with all the strikeouts (and called third strikes).
So, I don’t usually quibble with fan complaints. Davis’ play has earned the criticism.
Although recently — I’d say at least 10 times since the season started — fans have complained to me about Davis’ demeanor. They’ve accused Davis of not caring, of being nonchalant or resigned to making outs.
I don’t really buy it because I’ve been around Davis a lot, and, like most professional athletes, the guy cares about his performance. He probably cares too much. There’s no question Davis gets into his own head when things start to spiral downward.
Caring and not producing are vastly different, however.
So, if you are one of those who want to see Davis show public frustration, you got your money’s worth Monday.
In the third inning, Davis hit into an inning-ending double play. Afterward, he trotted into foul territory, took his helmet off with both hands and slammed it into the ground.
Three innings later, Davis struck out for the second time in the game, and, as he walked away from the plate, snapped his bat over his knee.
How bad was his Monday? Davis also attempted a bunt for a hit in the eighth and directed it sharply back to the pitcher.
A frustrating night with a side helping of frustrating antics from Davis.
“He’s not different. It just happened to be out there where you could see it. If you could see the other seven or eight guys up the runway. … There’s frustration involved,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Don’t ever assume someone doesn’t care. Chris is frustrated right now. He wants to contribute every at-bat. You can tell, even bunting there. He’s just trying to make a contribution. It’s frustrating for him.”
Yeah, Davis cares. Yeah, he’s frustrated.
Unfortunately, for him – and for the Orioles – his start to 2018 keeps getting worse. Davis is now 3-for-34 (.088) so far this season.
And Monday’s numbers were particularly ugly.
Four at-bats, two strikeouts, one double play, one underwhelming bunt attempt, one slammed helmet and two halves of a snapped bat.
Cortes continues to look overmatched
The Orioles love the idea of having a young, left-handed starter who can throw strikes in the upper levels of the farm system.
The problem is, as a Rule 5 selection from the New York Yankees in December, Nestor Cortes Jr., must stay in the majors all season or be offered back to the Yankees before he can be sent down to the minors.
And Triple-A is where the 23-year-old currently belongs. He’s had just 12 games above Double-A in his career before going north with the Orioles.
In 4 2/3 innings in the big leagues, he’s allowed 10 hits, four walks and four earned runs (for a 7.71 ERA). On Monday, he entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth and the Blue Jays leading, 2-1. Cortes walked in a run and then served up a mammoth grand slam to Josh Donaldson.
“It’s not his fault. He’s kind of learning on the job,” Showalter said.
In other words, Cortes is in Showalter’s bullpen, so he needs to use him. He’s one of two lefties in there and the other, Richard Bleier, was unavailable after three innings pitched Sunday.
It is sink or swim for Rule 5 types and Cortes simply does not look ready for the majors. You can question why he is facing a right-handed slugger like Donaldson, but the real question is how much longer can the Orioles afford to keep him in the big leagues and, consequently, in the organization?
Bundy deserves better fate – again
There’s not much more that can be said about starter Dylan Bundy so far this season. The 25-year-old right-hander continued his excellence Monday, allowing two runs on four hits (including a Steve Pearce two-run homer) and two walks while striking out 10 batters in seven innings.
It’s the fourth time in his career he has struck out at least 10. And the third time in three starts this season that he has gone at last six innings and allowed two runs or fewer.
It’s also the first time this season, however, that he has registered a decision. And it was a loss – putting him 0-1 for the year despite three quality starts.
The Orioles have scored a total of three runs while Bundy (1.35 ERA) was in games this season and six runs combined in those three games.
“I don’t look at my wins, I look more at the team wins,” Bundy said. “It’s not a big deal if I win as long as the team wins. You can’t really look at it like that. You’ve just got to go out there and give your team a chance to win every time you’re out there.”
Smallest paid crowd in Camden Yards history
Game-time temperature was 43 degrees and it was a Monday night in April, so it’s understandable why there weren’t a whole lot of people at Camden Yards to see the opener of the series against the Blue Jays.
Still, the announced crowd of 7,915 was the lowest paid attendance in the 27 seasons at Camden Yards, significantly below the previous low of 9,219 on April 10, 2010 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Technically, the unbreakable attendance low in Camden Yards’ history occurred on April 29, 2015, when no one showed up. Fans were not allowed to attend the afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox for security purposes following unrest in Baltimore City caused by the death of city resident Freddie Gray while in police custody.
But that game’s zero doesn’t count since paid attendance was prohibited.
Monday’s sparse crowd wasn’t the lightest paid attendance in Orioles’ history. That distinction occurred on Aug. 17, 1972 when 655 fans attended an afternoon makeup game against the White Sox at Memorial Stadium.
If you didn’t catch my weekly radio show Monday on WOYK in York or on the station’s website, woyk1350.com, you can hit the play arrow below and listen to it. Or download it as a BaltimoreBaseball.com podcast on iTunes. This week’s special guest is Shi Davidi, baseball columnist and Toronto Blue Jays writer for Sportsnet in Canada. Among the topics we discuss is whether Jose Bautista – a baseball pariah in Baltimore – will ever play in the big leagues again. Check it out.