By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
1:46 AM EDT, May 4, 2013
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Orioles' 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night might have come at a greater price.
The Orioles' top offensive weapon of the opening month of the season, first baseman Chris Davis, hobbled off the field in the fifth inning with a right knee injury. He is scheduled to get an MRI on Saturday morning.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was forced from the game after six innings after opening a blister on his right thumb, putting his next start in jeopardy.
After the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter remained optimistic despite losing his top run producer and one of his steadiest starting pitchers on the same night.
“We had things happen to us last year,” Showalter said. “We’ve already had them happen to us this year. Its part of this job description and playing 162 games. We have 132 games left, so we’ll have other things.”
While running out a grounder to third, Davis – who was named the Amarican League Player of the Month a day earlier – came up lame just after passing first base. Replays showed his right knee appear to buckle as his right foot touched the bag mid-stride.
Davis limped into the Orioles' dugout on the first-base line and down the stairs toward the clubhouse, grasping to the stair railing and unable to put weight on his right leg.
“[I] hit the bag funny, obviously,” Davis said. “My knee kind of buckled, felt a tingling in my foot, thought I could walk it off, went down the stairs, tried to go down the stairs, couldn’t go down the stairs. … Everything was intact. We will see how it is tomorrow. Hopefully I will feel better than I did tomorrow. Hopefully it will just be a couple days.”
The Orioles are now 5-4 on their 11-game West Coast road trip to Oakland, Seattle and Anaheim, but losing Davis for any significant amount of time would prove to be a great loss.
“You know, I’m not going to think of it that way,” Davis said. “I’m going to think of it as a little bump in the road. Like I said, it’ll just be a few days and get back out there.”
Davis has been one of baseball’s top hitters through the season’s first five weeks. He entered Friday night with a .337/.438/.704 batting line and was tied for the AL lead with nine homers and led the team with 29 RBIs. His 69 total bases were also tops in the AL.
“Chris is a good player. We’d rather have him on the field," Showalter said. "The doctor looked at it. I’m not going to play medical [doctor] here until we can get our arms around the MRI. We’ll wait to pass judgment.”
The Orioles (17-13) couldn't solve Angels lefty Jason Vargas, who allowed just three hits in a complete-game shutout.
Vargas (1-3), who was winless in five previous starts this season, retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced before J.J. Hardy reached with the Orioles’ first hit of the game with a two-out single in the fifth.
Adam Jones doubled to lead off the seventh. Jones moved to third but was hung up between third and home on Matt Wieters' grounder to third. Nick Markakis doubled with one out in the ninth but was stranded on second to end the game.
Vargas now owns a 1.65 ERA in seven career starts against the Orioles.
“You know what he’s going to do coming in,” Showalter said. “And he’s got great command on both sides of the plate with the changeup and he mixed in a breaking ball. He’s very athletic, and I thought when they made the acquisition in the offseason, it was one of the better ones, maybe under the radar. I hate being right about it.”
Gonzalez (2-2), who had blister issues in his previous start in Seattle, said the blister opened in the fourth inning after he delivered a curveball, and it really began to affect him in the sixth.
“It was a little tougher at the end, but good thing my command was there, so I was happy with that,” he said.
Gonzalez, a Southern California native who was drafted by the Angels and won his first big league start here last July., yielded a pair of homers that accounted for three of Los Angeles’ four runs.
Mark Trumbo took Gonzalez’s first delivery of the second inning – a 92-mph fastball – over the left-center field fence to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.
Gonzalez dodged further trouble until fifth, when Mike Trout launched a two-out, two-run homer to straightaway center to give the Angels a three-run cushion. Earlier in the inning, Gonzalez yielded a single to No. 9 hitter J.B. Shuck with one out.
Gonzalez struck out five and walked none, and he stranded three runners on base, including a runner on third with two outs in the third by striking out Trout on a 3-2 fastball.
The Angels added another run in the seventh on Trout’s RBI single against reliever Troy Patton.
With an off day on Monday, Gonzalez will get an extra day to allow the blister to heal, but it still puts his next start his upcoming Thursday in jeopardy.
“It’s a pretty deep blister,” Showalter said. “He ripped the top off it. That’s the challenge.”
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