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Orioles' Chris Davis homers again to complete climb from hitless to cleanup hitter

Lineup questions don't exactly hold the same weight with these Orioles as they once did when every game mattered toward a playoff spot, but in spring training, manager Brandon Hyde said his guiding principle on a lineup will be his best four hitters being in the top four spots.

For the first time this season, that included first baseman Chris Davis, who rewarded Hyde's faith in Sunday's rain-delayed, 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels with a home run that brought him to the precipice of a .200 batting average, even if he didn't breach it.

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"I think his at-bats the last two weeks have been really good, and I think he's swinging the bat with confidence," Hyde said. "I love his approach at the plate. He smoked that ball to right. He smoked a line-drive to the [third baseman Tommy La Stella].

“That's what I love to see. I love when he hits the ball hard the other way. He's got such huge power to left-center, that means he's staying on the ball and staying through the ball. But Chris has picked it up big-time, and is swinging the bat outstanding."

Davis' home run, his fifth of the season, brought his average to .196. He struck out looking at three pitches in his next two at-bats before lining out hard to shortstop with his fourth at-bat and walking in the eighth inning, leaving him at .189 for the season.

After infamously starting the season hitless in his first 33 at-bats, Davis is batting .290/.371/.581 with five home runs since breaking that stretch April 13. On this Orioles team, that's plenty good enough for the cleanup spot.

"I just like the way he's swinging the bat," Hyde said. "I was switching some things up, and seeing what it looked like. He went deep."

Davis would only say that he liked batting cleanup, noting that he's felt like he's been having good at-bats for that same week-long time-frame Hyde noted. His elevation coincided some with Renato Núñez's slump.

"I've told Hyder, and he knows this, I'll hit anywhere in the lineup," Davis said. "Especially with this group of guys, it doesn't really matter. But it was nice being in the four-hole. It felt very familiar."

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