Orioles first baseman Chris Davis struck out in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 15-3 loss to the New York Yankees, pushing him to an 0-for-23 start to the 2019 season.
With an 0-for-4 performance Sunday, Davis’ hitless drought dating to last season reached 44 at-bats, two shy of the major league record for a non-pitcher that Eugenio Velez set between the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. He could set the unwanted record during Monday’s series opener against the Oakland Athletics. Right-hander Marco Estrada will start for Oakland.
Davis has not had a base hit since doubling in his first at-bat Sept. 14, 2018, against the Chicago White Sox. In that time, he has also gone 51 plate appearances without a knock; Tony Bernazard holds the major league mark since 1974 with 57.
Davis signed a seven-year, $161-million contract with the Orioles before the 2016 season; $42 million of that is deferred from 2023-2037. Through the first three-plus seasons of that contract, Davis is hitting .199 with a .296 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage.
When manager Brandon Hyde decided to bring in a position player to pitch in the ninth inning Sunday, he went with infielder Hanser Alberto. In 2012, Davis pitched two scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox.
“I didn’t want to put the spotlight on him,” Hyde said.
It’s already there, and three hitless at-bats Monday could make it even brighter.