Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was left in the on-deck circle after the final out of Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, robbed of one last chance to end the first road trip of the season on a good note.

Had either Renato Núñez or Rio Ruiz reached base after Trey Mancini's three-run home run, Davis would have had the chance to make his first hit of the season mean something, further extending the Orioles’ comeback attempt in the ninth inning.


Instead, he walked back into the dugout with an ignominious week on the road complete — no hits in 18 plate appearances, with four walks (one intentional) and eight strikeouts. It represented a week-long dissolution of the notion that some combination of new voices, a new approach and a new pressure-free seventh spot in the batting order would be a recipe for the struggling slugger to get off to the kind of start that would ease fears that his 2018 was about to repeat itself.

The Orioles had just six hits but one big defensive miscue that led to a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, ending their improbable winning streak at four.

Before the game, manager Brandon Hyde's assessment of Davis focused on how well he was defending despite a lack of success at the plate.

"I think he's searching a little bit," Hyde said. "I thought he's taken a couple good swings. He just miss-hit a ball here. He just miss-hit a ball in New York. We've faced some really good pitching. I love the fact that he's playing great defense for us. He made a play on the line [Tuesday] night.

"When you come out of the gates a little slow, I think it's natural to press a little bit. I don't see that in him right now. I just see a guy that's trying to take good [at-bats] at the plate, and I want to believe it's going to come around."

It was only one week, but there was more to Davis' start to 2019 that looked like what beleaguered him in 2018 than anyone would have liked. He's chasing pitches out of the zone less often, and generally swinging less often — essentially creating a take-zone on the inner half of the plate — but still has a 44 percent strikeout rate. He's been susceptible to velocity at the top of the strike zone, which is where pitchers have attacked him late in counts.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde batted Chris Davis seventh in his Opening Day lineup, partially out of regular lineup strategy but seemingly to take pressure off him early in the season.

And what contact he does make hasn't been as authoritative as it once was, with an average exit velocity of 86.5 mph on his six batted balls entering Wednesday. He had a hard lineout Wednesday, but again had nothing to show for it.

Davis certainly isn't the only Orioles regular to be struggling. Everyday center fielder Cedric Mullins and everyday shortstop Richie Martin have one hit apiece. Third baseman Rio Ruiz has more strikeouts than Davis, with nine. They're all part of the reason the Orioles lineup has seen it's production concentrated to the trio of Trey Mancini, Dwight Smith Jr. and Jonathan Villar through six games.

But those players are also just trying to establish themselves in the big leagues, and Davis is in the midpoint season of a seven-year, $161 million contract that hasn't looked good since it was signed, and was only made worse by a 2018 season in which he hit .168 while accumulating -3.1 wins above replacement (WAR) for one of the worst years in baseball history.

Chris Davis is struggling at the plate and he's hurt again, but it's a little too early to give up on him and the $92 million left on his contract.

Even as the Orioles won both road series to start the year and return home Thursday 4-2, their relatively low expectations mean Hyde will keep giving Davis chances to figure it out. Thursday's home opener might be one of them, though Davis sat against Thursday's starter James Paxton, a hard-throwing left-hander, Saturday in New York.

Sitting him for the home opener, even with sound baseball reasoning that passed muster five days ago, would send a message that Davis' veteran status doesn't hold the weight it once did. Playing him could continue a slide that began at the end of 2018, when he sat the last week of the season but had five hitless games spanning 21 plate appearances with 12 strikeouts before that.

Hyde hasn't had many headaches, save for piecing together 27 outs every night with a short pitching staff. Davis' start might become one, if it hasn't already.

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