When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis woke up Monday morning, he probably had to double check to make sure the events of the past 24 hours weren’t all a dream.
Davis, who threw two scoreless innings to fuel the Orioles to their six-hour, 17-inning, sweep-clinching win over the Red Sox, quickly became the national baseball story of the day.
The Orioles bullpen was drained, and Davis provided the relief, striking out two Boston batters through the 16th and 17th innings in the Orioles’ eventual 9-6 win.
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“It was actually uplifting,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Chris came in and got some outs, and it sort of re-energized the whole dugout again. Every relief pitcher who appeared in that game came out into the dugout. I was lucky to have a good seat to watch it."
In the afterglow, the discussion was about how comfortable Davis – who hadn’t thrown a pitch since his junior college days in 2006 – appeared on the mound.
Catcher Matt Wieters offered up some quick advice before Davis faced his first hitter
"Don't blow (your arm) out,” Wieters said. “Just throw strikes. That was pretty much all I said to him.”
Davis said he wasn’t nervous coming into the game to pitch.
“If I was supposed to go out there and succeed and it was my livelihood and I was depending on my paycheck to do it, yeah probably,” Davis said. “But it’s was late in the game and I just wanted to throw strikes.”
Davis struck out that first hitter, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, swinging. In the next inning, he needed just three pitches to strike out Adrian Gonzalez, getting him out swinging on a undoubtedly nasty pitch that Davis touted at his split-fingered fastball.
“That's probably the easiest 89-91 I've ever seen,” Wieters said. “He came out and threw strikes and had a little movement on it. That was pretty impressive. He threw strikes. That's what we needed him to do."
By then, the Orioles were on the front step of the visiting dugout, loving that one of their position-player teammates was on the mound.
“I don't know how many hours it was, but I was starving around the 15th inning,” said shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had a career-high five hits. “I got a bar in me, and then Chris Davis coming in and getting a win, it was vc a lot of fun."
"Every time he warms up, he's acting like he's pitching,” Hardy said of Davis. “It was actually good. He had pretty good stuff.”
Davis’ fastball dropped dramatically in his second inning of work – from 91-92 to 84 – and the Red Sox were getting good swings on Davis. Ryan Sweeney hit a sharp comebacker that hit off Davis’ glove for an infield hit, and Mike Aviles' double to the left-center-field gap would have won the game if not for a pinpoint relay from Hardy to Wieters.
“I didn’t even think about a ball coming back at me until Sweeney hit the ball back to me and then I was thinking, ‘OK, I need to get the ball down or I’m going to get killed,” Davis said.
Nearly every player had his part in the game. The offense rallied the team early with two homers from Hardy and a three-run shot from Robert Andino. The bullpen carried the team late, continuing their season-long stride. The Orioles overcame two fielding errors, and six double-play balls on offense.
Twenty of the team's 25-players logged game action -- catcher Luis Exposito was the only position player left on the bench, as were the other four Orioles starting pitchers.
"For sure, it was everyone," said Hardy. "I guess that's why there's 25."
And despite an 0-for-8 day at the plate, Davis found a way to contribute big.
“Chris Davis was 0-for-8 today,” said center fielder Adam Jones, who hit the game-winning three-run homer in the 17th. “Trust me, the fans were letting him have it. There were some guys who had some o-fors, some guys who had some big games, but we all won. That’s all that matters. We all stuck in it until the last out.”