Orioles slugger Chris Davis said he's not thinking at all about his pending free-agent status, his tremendous offensive streak or his league lead in RBIs.
He simply is trying to win ballgames. And whether you fully believe the big fella with so much at stake this season, this much is certain: Davis is keeping the Orioles alive in the pennant race in mid-August no matter what might happen in September, October or in the offseason.
Davis made that point abundantly clear Saturday night in the Orioles' 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics by hitting two home runs, including one with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth against a guy who can pitch with both arms.
It was the second straight night in which the Orioles won on a walk-off homer – Manny Machado hit a two-run shot in the 13th on Friday – and the club's sixth walk-off victory in 2015.
"Really fun. Any time you're winning it's a lot of fun, especially when you do it the way we've done it the last couple nights, walking off," said Davis, who has three career game-ending homers, the last coming on June 23, 2014. "It would be nice to win by four or five runs and not have to hold your breath the whole game. But any time you get a win at home it's big no matter what time of the year it is. I'm proud of the way the guys have battled and stayed in there."
This is the first time the club has had consecutive game-ending homers since July 1998, also against the A's, when Rafael Palmeiro and Lenny Webster each did it. The Orioles haven't had two straight walk-off wins of any variety since September 2012, when Nate McLouth and Machado delivered consecutive game-winning singles.
Perhaps most impressive, the Orioles have delivered the dramatic victories this week on the heels of being no-hit Wednesday in Seattle.
"It kind of reaffirms what I've already been saying," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You are never as bad as a certain moment in the season; you are never as good as a certain moment. I just want to have the type of people that are going to seek their level, that are capable of it and I think we have those guys."
The Orioles (59-56) improved to 34-20 at home and moved within a half-game of the Los Angeles Angels for the second American League wild card. They remain five games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
Davis had already homered once Saturday night – a mammoth two-run shot in the fourth - when he came to the plate with two outs in the ninth against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (0-1). Venditte threw lefty against Davis, but had just pitched from the right side against Adam Jones and left-handed versus Gerardo Parra, who had an eight-pitch at-bat end with a flyout.
"I had a pretty good scouting report after I saw Parra's at-bat. I thought it was a great at-bat by him, a guy that you've never seen. You obviously know he can switch either hand," Davis said. "The last pitch I hit was actually a good pitch. I was just trying to put the barrel on it and give myself a chance."
Davis hit the 70-mph slider to right-center, and at first it didn't seem like to would go out, but it kept carrying. The announced 44,028 – the eighth sellout this season at Camden Yards – went crazy as Davis circled the bases and the Orioles gathered at home plate to maul their hero.
"Without a doubt, that was fun," Showalter said of the night and the sold-out crowd. "Any time you see that much orange in the dugout and that loud of an 'O' you want to give them something to return the faith and support they have in you."
The night didn't start well for the Orioles and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez. His second pitch was pummeled by Oakland leadoff hitter Billy Burns. It landed over center fielder Adam Jones' head for a triple. One pitch later, Burns scored on an RBI groundout by Mark Canha.
Three pitches in, and Gonzalez was down 1-0.
In the third, the Athletics took a 3-0 lead on solo homers by Sam Fuld and Josh Reddick. Gonzalez had allowed two homers in a game just once in his previous five starts before surrendering two in one inning.
"Early on, my off-speed wasn't crisp," Gonzalez said. "Obviously, they were laying off my off-speed pitches. Later on in the game, I settled in and I was working a little faster."
Gonzalez's outing looked doomed in the fifth when he walked the bases loaded. But he then induced an inning-ending double play that included an impressive turn by second baseman Jonathan Schoop who had to sidestep the runner and throw a bullet to get slow-footed Billy Butler at first.
"He got a ground ball from a good hitter and Jon turned it with a guy right on top of him, which he's been doing all year," Showalter said. "The guy made a great slide and Jon just stood in there like an oak tree and completed it."
Gonzalez struck out the side in the sixth and pitched a perfect seventh to finish his evening. He threw a season-high 110 pitches and completed seven innings for just the second time in 12 starts, darting to June 3.
"He was a pitch away from coming out of the game two or three times and he found a way to give us what the club needed," Showalter said. "That's a special outing by the starting pitcher."
Zach Britton (3-0) earned the win with a scoreless ninth after Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless eighth.
Gerardo Parra also had a homer against Oakland rookie Chris Bassitt, for the only other Orioles run not created by Davis on Saturday.
Davis has homered nine times in August and, since the All-Star break, has 15 homers and 36 RBIs in 27 games. He now leads the AL with 88 RBIs and ranks fifth all-time in home runs at Camden Yards (87), breaking a tie with Cal Ripken Jr.
"It's impressive. He's coming in big situations for us, really after the All-Star break especially," Britton said of Davis. "That's what you need from a guy of his caliber and with his talent. It's fun to watch, and I remember watching him like this a couple years ago, too. Last year, he had a little bit of struggles, but he's back to the Chris that we know, which is great. Great timing for it, too."
Britton was speaking about the timing of Davis' power surge helping the Orioles. But it's not lost that the first baseman is having a tremendous year as he is about to test free agency.
Club executive vice president Dan Duquette told a group of season-ticket holders before the game that he wants to re-sign Davis – that the slugger is a priority.
Right now, though, Davis is having nothing to do with that talk.
"I'd love to stay here. I told you guys in spring training I wasn't going to talk about contracts," Davis said. "We have way too much on our plate right now, too much to focus on. I feel like it's selfish to sit here and talk about my future with the team when we are trying to make the postseason, so we'll address that when the time comes."