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Orioles observations: Davis' defense, Trumbo against the monster and Gallardo's breaking ball

Orioles observations: Davis' defense, Trumbo against the monster and Gallardo's breaking ball
Boston Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts lunges but doesn't reach the base as Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis catches the ball for a ground out in the fifth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Monday, April 11, 2016, in Boston. (Elise Amendola / AP)

Chris Davis drove in five runs in the Orioles' 9-7 win over the Red Sox on Monday afternoon, including a game-winning three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth. And because Davis played such a big role in putting runs on the board in Boston's home opener, it's probably easy to forget about the base runners he took away defensively.

Davis made both of the Orioles' double-play balls happen, scooping one and stretching for another, and he also made a pair of sensational plays at first that helped keep the Red Sox at bay. Two plays he made to retire leadoff batters were instrumental in getting Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo through five innings.

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In the third inning, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts laced a sharp grounder down the first-base line that was heading toward Fenway's tricky right field corner before Davis dove to his left and made a lunging play on Bogaerts' ball, then quickly got to his feet to touch the first-base bag in time.

Two innings later, with Bogaerts at the plate again to lead off the inning, third baseman Manny Machado charged across the infield grass to scoop a slow-moving grounder, then rifled a low throw to first.

Machado's throw skipped in front of Davis, whose only play was to backhand the in-between hop while falling down. Davis kept his back foot on the bag to retire Bogaerts.

Davis can play Gold Glove-caliber defense. He was a finalist for the award two years ago, and he might be off to his best start defensively.

"I thought one of the keys to the game was the game Chris Davis had at first base, defensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's as good as you'll see a first baseman play nine innings. That was impressive to watch."

When the Orioles resigned Davis on a seven-year, $161-million deal, they made it clear to Davis that first base was his, and that mattered to the slugger. He probably could have received more feelers on the free-agent market as an outfielder – his agent Scott Boras pedaled him as a multi-position player during the offseason – but Davis feels most comfortable at first.

An adventerous day in left for Trumbo: Mark Trumbo had his challenges in left field on Monday afternoon, but fly balls were a challenge in the outfielder because of a strong wind swirling around Fenway Park.

Trumbo missed a fly ball in left-center field off the bat of Hanley Ramirez in the third inning, calling off center fielder Joey Rickard but over-pursuing the ball. The wind might have played a role in that play.

It seemed like the wind definitely aided Jackie Bradley, Jr.'s tailing ground-rule double that one-hopped into the left-field stands. Off the bat, Bradley thought it was foul. Bradley stayed in the batter's box several moments before running. And Trumbo's sliding attempt to make a catch was far short of where the ball bounced. He had no play on it.

He struggled a bit with Fenway's high left-field wall. He played David Ortiz's RBI single off the wall well, but another hit off the wall hopped over him, out of his reach. And even though he made the catch on Blake Swihart's fly ball at the warning track in the eighth, Trumbo thought he was closer to the wall than he was, jumping to make the catch at the edge of the track.

Ryan Flaherty replaced Trumbo late in the game. It will be interesting to see if Trumbo gets another start in left on Tuesday, especially since the DH spot will likely be open with Matt Wieters – who was Monday's DH – slated to catch.

Gallardo goes with the slow stuff: In his second start with the Orioles, right-hander Yovani Gallardo continued to show that he'd going to rely heavily on his breaking ball to get outs this season.

Gallardo threw breaking pitches nearly 50 percent of the time (47.92) in Monday's game – mixing his slider, cutter and curveball. He also used hit changeup more often than he typically does (9.38 percent).

His outing on Monday wasn't good – it was the worst by an Orioles starter so far this season – but after allowing three runs in the first inning, Gallardo found a way to get through five innings by mixing up his stuff.

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Gallardo's four-seam fastball averaged just 87.13 mph on Monday, his lowest fastball average velocity in a single him in his career over 249 major league outings.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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