ARLINGTON, Texas — Chris Davis has admitted that coming to Baltimore — and leaving a Texas Rangers team which he grew up loving and struggled to live up to expectations with — was an important part in his development into one of the best players in baseball this season.
But Davis entered Saturday 1-for-17 with 11 strikeouts and just one RBI in five games against his former team this season. Since coming to the Orioles in a trade from the Rangers on July 30, 2011, Davis is 4-for-38 with one homer, one RBI and 23 strikeouts against Texas (including last year’s wild-card game).
In Friday's series opener, Davis began the second half with a 0-for-4, three-strikeout night.
Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters before Saturday's game that he believes Davis has been pressing against his old team.
"I think it's a combination of executing pitches and Chris Davis wanting to get us back," Washington said. "I certainly haven't seen him taking wild swings like he's taken against us against other teams. It's us executing pitches, him guessing wrong, him wanting to get us back.
"I hope he stays like that for two more days," Washington added. "When we left Baltimore, he tore Toronto up. I just hope he stays like that for two more days. Maybe he's over-anxious being back home, playing against the Rangers. At some point in his career, he'll get over that."
Davis, speaking before Saturday's game, couldn't have disagreed more. He said he's seen far fewer pitches to hit against the Rangers than most other opponents this season, which he said had led him to become slightly undisciplined at the plate.
"The majority of my swings and misses have been on balls out of the strike zone," Davis said. "The last time we played these guys and even [Friday] night, I can count on one hand the number of strikes they've thrown me. I don't think it's anything personal or emotional I'm dealing with as far as those guys are concerned. I think it's just trying to compete and put runs on the board and getting out of that disciplined approach of trying to look for my pitch and not try to do too much."
Davis — who leads the majors with 37 homers and also gas 93 RBIs — has feasted on balls on the outer half of the plate all season. But in Friday night's 3-1 Orioles win, he struck out in his first at-bat, then flailed at two breaking balls outside of the strike zone in his next two at-bats.
"I've done it a couple times this year, one of which was against the Yankees, and that's something that's tough when you feel good and you're swinging the bat well and seeing the ball well," Davis said. "You want to do as much damage as you can, and like I said, with these guys, they're not really inclined to throw a lot of strikes, so that's kind of worked against me, but I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that it's my former team or anything like that."
Davis said he realizes that he is likely going to see fewer pitches to hit as the season goes along. In 14 July games heading into Saturday, Davis was batting .194, and six of his nine hits this month were homers.