The streak is finally over. Chris Davis blasted his hitless streak into oblivion in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Red Sox, and once he popped the cork, the hits kept flowing. Three hits and four runs batted in for Davis made the difference in a snail-paced 9-5 win for the O’s in Fenway Park. The O’s snapped their own streak of four straight losses.
Davis breaking the streak could not have come at a better time for the Orioles. With Sox starter Rick Porcello laboring through the first inning, he appeared to pitch around O’s #5 hitter Rio Ruiz to set up a situation where Davis would come to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. It’s a reasonable decision to make when the next batter is working on an 0-54 streak at the plate.
Fortunately for Davis and the Orioles, Porcello has had a tough time to start the 2019 season. He is particularly challenged with command. On a 1-0 count, Davis got his pitch and hit a line drive over the infield shift and between the right and center fielder. There was never a doubt the ball would fall in. Two runs scored, giving the O’s an early lead, and Davis, a good sport about the whole thing, signaled for the ball to be saved in the dugout.
It was a long road for Davis to get to this point. When he finally got his hit, it wasn’t a cheap one. Statcast gave it an exit velocity of 98.9 mph and based on the launch angle and distance, an expected batting average (xBA) on the play of .660. When you hit a ball like that, you should get a hit, and Davis did.
This was not the end of Davis’s offensive output for the day. In the fifth inning, with two men on base and Davis due up, the Sox yanked Porcello in favor of righty reliever Heath Hembree. The first pitch Davis saw, he smashed for a double that broke what had become a 2-2 tie. The O’s never trailed after this point when Davis gave them a 3-2 lead. Again, it wasn’t cheap: 99.8mph off the bat and an xBA of .570.
Even Davis’s outs proved productive, as he collected his fourth RBI in the sixth inning on a fielder’s choice. Sometimes all you have to do with a man on third base is make contact instead of strike out. Later, Davis added a third hit when he drove a pitch to center that cleared Mookie Betts’s glove and bounced off the wall in the deepest part of the park.
The ending of the Davis streak was not some cheap hit against a struggling pitcher. He got three hits off of three different pitchers, all of which came off the bat from 98-101mph. We’ll find out in a hurry how well he can build on this. It was good to see the streak finally end.
On the whole, things worked exactly how you would want for the Orioles offense. Their top three hitters got on base a lot: Jonathan Villar had two hits and two walks, Trey Mancini had two hits and a walk, and Dwight Smith Jr. drew three walks. Each scored two runs because the middle three hitters drove them in a lot: two hits, two RBI for Renato Núñez; two hits, a walk, and two RBI for Ruiz; three hits and four RBI for Davis.
In all, they collected nine runs on 13 hits, and O’s batters took advantage of the wild Boston pitchers by drawing eight walks. They had a whopping 21 at-bats with a runner in scoring position across the whole game.
Though the Davis hitless streak may have ended, the other big Orioles streak continued. That is their streak of consecutive games allowing a home run to begin the season. Starting pitcher Andrew Cashner served up a two-run tater in the third inning to Christian Vazquez, extending the club record streak to 15 and putting the O’s in striking distance of the record of 16 held by the 2009 Phillies. One home run allowed tomorrow and the O’s have a share of the record.
The Vazquez home run temporarily tied the game, at least until Davis broke the tie in the fifth. The O’s added four runs in the top of the sixth inning and two more in the top of the seventh to take a lead as wide as 9-3.
Even after the Orioles staked him a five run lead in the top of the sixth, Cashner proved unable to record an out in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back hits by Andrew Benintendi and Betts ended Cashner’s day and forced Jimmy Yacabonis into damage control mode. That’s a scary sentence, but actually, Yacabonis got Mitch Moreland to ground into a double play that scored a run but snuffed out the rally.
Because it’s Fenway and the Orioles aren’t allowed an easy win there, or so it seems, Yacabonis had some more nervous moments in the bottom of the seventh. Yacabonis gave up a single to Rafael Devers, walked Dustin Pedroia, and let both of these runners score when he gave up a double to Vazquez to set the score at its final of 9-5.
Perpetual wild thrower Tanner Scott relieved Yacabonis and walked the first batter he saw, then ended up in a 3-1 count against the reigning AL MVP, Betts. It was easy to expect the homer. In fact, Scott got a lazy fly ball from Betts to end the inning.
The O’s summoned Mychal Givens to get the last five outs of the game. It wasn’t a save situation due to the four run lead. Givens has had some dramatic moments in 2019. There were none today. He struck out the first two batters he saw to end the eighth inning with no drama, then struck out two more in the ninth to close out the win.
One win is just one win. There are 147 games still to play. It was still a nice win. The O’s are back ahead of the Red Sox in the standings with a chance to get farther ahead in Sunday afternoon’s 1:05 game. John Means and David Price are the scheduled starters.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 13, 2019?
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Chris Davis (broke the streak, 3 hits, 4 RBI)