BALTIMORE—Chris Davis trotted around the bases extra slowly. Home runs, which once came so easily for him, are few and far between, and they’re to be savored.
In the bottom of the seventh of a 1-1 tie Sunday, Davis hit Marco Gonzales’ pitch just into the right-field stands, propelling the Orioles to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners in the Orioles’ final home game of 2019.
Those game-winning home runs used to happen frequently for Davis, but this was just his 11th of the season, his first since August 28, and first at home since August 2.
“I immediately thought back to my last game here in 2015, when I didn’t know if it was going to be my last game as an Oriole,” Davis said.
“We had several guys on the team who were going to be free agents that had been here several years, and I hit a homer earlier in the game and in my last at-bat I homered. And I remember right before I crossed home plate looking up into the stands thinking, ‘Is this the last time I’m going to hear this?’
“Today was kind of a similar thing. But I know it’s not the last time I’m going to hear it. It’s something that was long overdue, and I’ve said it over and over again, I appreciate all of our fans, the people who have supported me day in and day out. And it was cool to actually give them something to cheer for.”
In 2013 and 2015, Davis led the major leagues in home runs, but ever since he signed his seven-year, $161 million contract, his performance has gone south. It has been abysmal the past two seasons — 16 home runs and a .168 average in 2018, 11 homers and a .174 average this year.
“I wanted to soak it in,” Davis said of the fans’ reaction. “There have been a lot of really tough nights for me here, walking back to the dugout at-bat after at-bat. Just feeling like I let my teammates down, let the coaching staff down, let the fans down.”
Davis’ home run was the 200th hit by an Oriole this season.
“I’ve put in a lot of work, especially later this season, than I have in the past, and it’s nice to see it start coming together. I felt good for the last few days. I obviously haven’t been playing, but I felt like I’ve had some good at-bats. It was just good to come through.”
Davis’ home run enabled starter John Means to even his record at 11-11, strengthening his bid to pick up Rookie of the Year votes. At home, Means was 8-5 with a 2.74 ERA.
He allowed a run on seven hits in seven innings.
The game didn’t start out promising for Means, who allowed a leadoff triple to Shed Long and a run-scoring single to J.P. Crawford in the first. Kyle Seager doubled with one out, but Means struck out Tom Murphy and got Austin Nola on a grounder to second to end the inning.
“I’m really trying to prove to myself that I can finish out the year strong and try to just get my best stuff towards the end,” Means said. “It’s a grind. This is the first time I’ve ever really pitched all the way through September, and it is a little different, but at the same time, it’s part of it.”
The Orioles tied it in the bottom of the first on Renato Nunez’s RBI double.
Richard Bleier retired the last six batters to earn his fourth save. The game was played in two hours, 11 minutes, the quickest of the season.
The Orioles are 51-105 with six games to play.
Trumbo’s final home game: Mark Trumbo was 0-for-2 with a walk as the designated hitter in what was expected to be his final home game with the Orioles.
Trumbo, who’s played four seasons with the Orioles, missed almost all of this year recovering from right knee surgery in September 2018.
The 33-year-old is batting .200 with three RBIs in 11 games, and his future is indefinite.
“He hasn’t told me that this is it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He hasn’t told me that he doesn’t think he can do this anymore. I think this, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think this September … he really wanted to play and be a part of our team.
“I think he really likes our team. He put a ton of really hard work in to be able to play the last month of the year, so that’s why I wanted him to play, because I saw what he was going through. But I also think he was seeing if this was going to work out, if he felt good enough to play next year. But he has not indicated to me that he’s retiring or he’s done playing.”
Hyde wanted to reward Trumbo for working hard on his rehab and for mentoring young players.
“I think you can take minor league at-bats, but it’s just not the same,” Hyde said. “That long of a layoff, it’s really, really difficult and think he’s had some good at-bats and think he ran way better than he did in spring training and way better than the videos that I saw when he was rehabbing the middle of the summer. So he [looks] like a guy who’s just coming back that can really hit. The timing might be a little bit off. For me, he just needs at-bats.”
Mancini rests: Trey Mancini received his Most Valuable Oriole award before the game, and got a day off.
Mancini is nursing a bruised leg that occurred on Wednesday night when Toronto’s Justin Shaffer hit him with a pitch.
“His leg’s pretty beat up,” Hyde said “I talked to him last night and I said, ‘I think it’s a good idea if we give you a day today.’ He was good with that. And then this morning it’s even a little more sore, so made the right decision on giving him a break today.”
Setting the rotation: The Orioles begin their final road trip of the season on Monday. They’ll play three games in Toronto and three in Boston.
Chandler Shepherd, Dylan Bundy and Gabriel Ynoa will pitch for the Orioles against the Blue Jays. Clay Buchholz, Anthony Kay and Jacob Waguespack will start for Toronto.