Orioles slugger Chris Davis wouldn't use the word “redemptive” after his two-hit, three-RBI performance Wednesday in the Orioles' 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees.
The season has just begun, there's a long way to go and plenty will occur between now and September. So tuck away the “redemption” talk for a little while.
“It is too much. I mean, what is it the ninth game of the year?” Davis said. “Still early, still trying to feel some things out, better at-bats tonight. … It'd be nice to get off to an Adam Jones start every year, but sometimes that's just not the case.”
While his buddy Jones entered action Wednesday hitting .429 this season, Davis was batting just .192, was in an 0-for-10 skid with eight strikeouts. He snapped his hitless streak with an RBI single in the first; his big moment came in the sixth, when he smacked an opposite-field two-run double to left-center to give the Orioles a much-needed, three-run cushion and energize the announced crowd of 23,409 at Camden Yards.
“He doesn't give in,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Davis. “But I know it's frustrating for him to strike out that much. But more times than not you like the finished product.”
Davis' double sealed the first series victory against the Yankees (3-6), whom the Orioles beat 13 of 19 times last year. The Orioles (5-4) want to replicate that dominance against their division rival.
Davis, however, wants to bury 2014 — a season in which he batted .196 and was suspended for testing positive for amphetamines. On Monday, he struck out in all four of his plate appearances and failed to hold onto a tough throw at first base that led to a game-breaking grand slam. On Tuesday, he was hitless in three at-bats, including two strikeouts as the DH.
“When you are DH'ing it is tough when you don't swing the bat because you don't get the defensive side,” Davis said. “Obviously, after the ball that hit off my glove the other night, it pretty much felt like I wore that on the chin for the team. But it was nice to come back and be a contributing factor in the lineup and turn a double play.”
Davis struck out three more times Wednesday, but driving the ball the opposite way is certainly a good sign.
“Yeah, especially off a left-hander,” Showalter said. “But, at this point, I think Chris will take anything.”
The Orioles scored first Wednesday, getting three singles against Yankees' right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning. The last one, by Davis, drove in Everth Cabrera for a 1-0 Orioles' lead. By the time the Orioles scored again — on Manny Machado's first homer of the season in the fourth — they were trailing.
Right-hander Bud Norris, who was bashed for eight runs by the Toronto Blue Jays during the home opener last Friday, threw two scoreless innings Wednesday before allowing two runs in the third and a solo homer to Alex Rodriguez in the fourth. It was the 656th homer of the embattled Rodriguez's career — he is now just four home runs away from tying Hall of Famer Willie Mays for fourth on baseball's all-time list.
Norris retired five of the final seven batters he faced, including recording his last three outs on strikeouts. But a high pitch count — he threw 98 pitches, 57 for strikes — limited him to just five innings.
"I think when Bud bent but didn't break, it gave us a chance,” Showalter said. “They had a few pops at him. Of course, he wanted to go back out there [for the sixth], but he had thrown I think 35 pitches that inning.”
Nevertheless, it was a solid performance by Norris, who allowed five hits, two walks and three runs while striking out seven in the no-decision. Brad Brach (1-0) got the win with two scoreless innings.
Norris left the game trailing 3-2, but Jonathan Schoop took Norris off the hook with a solo homer to lead off the sixth against right-hander David Carpenter (0-1).
Later in the inning, Delmon Young, who was 10-for-20 as a pinch-hitter in the 2014 regular season, picked up his first pinch-hit this year in his second try. And it was a big hit.
Young, pinch-hitting for Travis Snider against Wilson, singled to the left side, and Alejandro De Aza raced in from second to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
After Davis' clutch double, Caleb Joseph added an RBI single to make it 7-3.
The Orioles needed those extra runs, because Tommy Hunter, who allowed a grand slam Monday, gave up two runs in the eighth on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. The bullpen has now allowed a run in each of the Orioles' nine games this season.
Zach Britton, though, pitched around a one-out double and two-out walk to pick up his third save in as many chances.
And now the Orioles head to Fenway Park on Friday with a winning record and a four-game series against the first place Boston Red Sox.
“We're playing our division pretty much this whole month, and it's good to kind of see where we're at and get a chance to see these guys,” Davis said. “They feel like they're playoff games this early in the year.”