When he stepped to the plate in the second inning Monday, he saw the stats on the video board: He was 7-for-10 lifetime with two RBIs against Price. And then Valencia hit a RBI double in his first at-bat and also singled and walked in three plate appearances against the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.
“Obviously, I saw it up on the scoreboard. I thought, ‘It can only go down from here,'” Valencia joked. “And then [later] I was like, ‘Wow, it went up.’”
Valencia said he can’t pinpoint why he is hitting a mind-boggling .750 against Price.
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“I don’t think I necessarily see him better than other guys,” said Valencia, who is hitting .244 in 78 at-bats this season with the Orioles. “I just think he is a guy I’ve had success against because maybe I’ve gotten ahead in the count and he’s had to give me pitches I could hit. That’s not to say the next time I face him he doesn’t strike me out three times.”
Valencia was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday – and don’t think the timing was coincidental. Not only did the Orioles promote Valencia to face Price, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the club was aware of how Valencia hit Price when they acquired him for cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox in November.
“That’s one of the things you file in the back [of your mind] when you sign him in the offseason,” Showalter said. “We were looking at that. There’s not many of them floating around and we had a feeling we might face David Price this year. So, yeah, we look at those things.”
Showalter said 10 at-bats isn’t a huge sample size, but they were impressed with his types of hits and the quality of at-bats. Showalter said when he talked to Valencia on Monday he told the right-handed hitter that, at the very least, Valencia can have a career handling tough lefties.
“At 28, I don’t want him to think he is a specialist against left-handed pitching, but it is something that he is very good at and can carve a niche for him at the worst,” Showalter said. “Think about it as the worst-case scenario. You are gonna have people interested in you, including us, because the niche you have carved out for yourself. This was before he got two more hits. … It ain’t that easy. David Price is pretty good.”
Showalter was asked if he could put a finger on Valencia’s success against Price.
“I know exactly what it is and I’m going to broadcast it here now,” Showalter joked. “It’s one of those things, I’m afraid to ask him. ‘What is it on this guy? What do you do? Why are you different? So we can share your knowledge with everybody else.’ I kind of know what the answer is. See it, hit it.”