Prior to the game, I observed that you can't spell "Chris Davis Grand Slam" without "Liam" - Liam Hendriks being the Twins starter. This was a joke, as the idea that Davis would join the list of players who've hit home runs in each of the first four games of a season - Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Nelson Cruz - seemed ridiculous. Davis entered the game with more RBI than nearly half the teams in baseball have scored runs. It was a hot series, but he broke his bat at the end of it. Done is done. Time for the power to return to the levels of ordinary humans.
Then Davis came up to the plate in a tie game in the bottom of the 8th inning. The bases were loaded, with Adam Jones having just poked a single into left to score a run. Davis had merely singled and hit a sac fly on the day. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire went and summoned a lefty reliever, Tyler Robertson, whose name cannot be used to help spell "Chris Davis Grand Slam." Robertson threw one pitch, a little low and a little away, exactly where you want to pitch a strong left-handed batter.
These are the rules that apply when dealing with mortals, but one must always remember that Davis is now playing baseball from the Norse pantheon. He is Thor. He sees your pathetic attempts to neutralize his power and he smashes them to the opposite field. He will not be stopped. He will not be contained. He will lay waste to all in his path. Only the shattered dreams of the pitchers of Major League Baseball will sate his fury.
Orioles baseball was fun last year. We had forgotten what it was like for baseball to be fun, not just because it's baseball but because it's fun. I wondered if I would ever feel anything quite like that again. Well, nothing will ever be quite like 2012, but this is also pretty fun. Great plays, dramatic home runs - it's early yet, but it's awesome.
Why were the theatrics needed today? An excellent question, which has the unfortunate answer of Jake Arrieta. Starting his third consecutive opener in Baltimore, he was looking to show that he was not the same Jake we have seen in years past. For about one inning, you might have thought it was a different Jake. He struck out two in the top of the first and won a long-AB battle against Joe Mauer. Then he sat down on the bench and had too long to think (or whatever) and he started throwing too many pitches, not being able to retire batters quick enough, and whatever else happens to him.
The thing about Jake is there is always, lurking in the periphery, the excuse of bad luck. Some of it might even be right! Take the fourth inning, when things fell apart for him and four runs scored. He gave up a double to Josh Willingham and walked Justin Morneau, who are not bad hitters. Then he struck out the next two Twins. One more batter and he would have been out of it. But if he could get that one more batter on the regular, he wouldn't be Jake. Single to center, a run scores. Fine, whatever, just limit the damage.
This is the next line in the play-by-play: B DOZIER TRIPLED TO DEEP RIGHT, J MORNEAU AND C PARMALEE SCORED.
And staring right there in your face, if you watched the play, is the fact that Nick Markakis in right field took a god-awful route in an attempt to field this ball and it was hardly even Jake's fault - other than the fact that he didn't make a GREAT pitch, but it could have very easily been an out, inning over. Is this Jake's fault? Sort of, but sort of not. Does he really just have very, very bad luck? At what point does bad luck start being explained some other way? The question endures when you look at the gap between his ERA and his FIP last season, and maybe he will have more of that this season.
You watch an inning where some things aren't his fault and then there's innings where, after the Orioles scored two runs to tie the game, Jake goes out and walks the leadoff hitter, looking like he has absolutely no idea where the baseball is going. Possibly that is not just hyperbole and he has no idea where it is going! Then he gets the grounder and it looks like it could be a ball right towards where the shortstop would usually be if the infield was at double-play depth, only the shortstop wasn't there. Two on, no out, right after the hitters tied it up for him. Expletives are released, Buck charges out of the dugout, Jake is out, Troy Patton limits the damage to a run, but the Orioles are trailing 5-4 all the same.
Jake's line on the day was 5+ innings, 7 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 5 strikeouts. Even over the Davis grand slam euphoria, I am unable to resist this lengthy diatribe about him in the game.
In the end, however, Arrieta's day was not anywhere close to the biggest story. Orioles Magic lives on another year, and Gardenhire thinks it's a good idea to intentionally walk Markakis to bring up Adam Jones with the bases loaded. What is that? He was the hero on many home run balls last season, but the Jones we've seen through four games this year goes with a pitch wherever it takes him: in this case, right between the shortstop and third baseman. That was what tied the game, and Gardenhire summoned his lefty for Davis, and the rest is history.
In addition to Davis, Nate McLouth, Markakis, Jones, and Matt Wieters all had multi-hit games as part of a 14-hit storm by the Orioles.
Davis has now done something that no Orioles hitter has ever done before. What will he do next? Probably he will cool off, because players just don't slug 1.600. But maybe he will just keep hitting home runs. He makes it look so easy right now. He is big, he is strong, and he likes to hit baseballs really far. He has driven in more runs (16) than 18 MLB teams have scored so far.
Saturday's game has a 7:05pm start time. Vance Worley takes the mound for the Twins, with Chris Tillman set to come off the disabled list to start for the O's.