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Chris Davis finding home run stroke as Orioles are reminded of power potential

The Orioles haven't been their homer-happy selves this season, and first baseman Chris Davis might be the poster boy for the team's power shortage.

Still, he is a slugger who can hit home runs in bunches. And after homering in back-to-back games — both coming off left-handers — for the first time since August with a three-run blast in the Orioles' 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night, Davis could be finding his power stroke.

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"It's hard to do," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Sometimes, left-handers kind of lock you in a little bit. Chris has got a couple adjustments that he's trying to make and it's looked good. Of course, he's made adjustments all along. All hitters do. You have to. But he had a big blow for us tonight."

Davis entered this week's home series against the Kansas City Royals with just two homers in his first 31 games. After averaging 37 homers the past six seasons, he was on a pace to hit just 11 this season as his batting average dipped to .171.

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May 9, 2018 -- The Orioles beat the Royals, 5-3, ending a seven-game losing streak. (Denise Sanders, Baltimore Sun video)

No team had hit more homers than the Orioles from 2011 to 2017 combined — they ranked in the top five in homers in each of those seven years — but this year, they entered play Wednesday ranked 11th of 15 American League teams in home runs.

They've leaned on the home run ball as a big chunk of their offense — Davis said last week in the midst of a winless West Coast trip that they've done it for too long as a team — and their inability to duplicate their power numbers of the past is the primary reason the Orioles offense was averaging just 3.49 runs a game.

Over the past two games, Davis is showing signs of regaining his power stroke, hitting homers in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 23 and 25, 2017.

His home run Tuesday — a solo shot with a 15-run deficit in a 15-7 loss — was meaningless to the score of the game. But Wednesday's blast was important in many ways.

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Davis' three-run opposite-field blast off Kansas City starter Eric Skogland gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. And while any lead has been rare for these Orioles recently, it was a reminder of how the Orioles' power potential can carry them with one swing of the bat.

Davis' home run, his fourth of the season, was only the Orioles' second with more than one man on base, with their only previous one being Pedro Álvarez's 14th-inning grand slam in the Orioles' extra-inning win April 6 over the Yankees in New York.

So the Orioles have yet to truly tap the power of the home run ball, with 37 of their 39 homers this season being either solo or two-run shots.

Three of Davis' four homers this season have been against left-handed pitchers. Last year, he had just four homers off lefties all season in 164 plate appearances.

The Orioles took the lead in the eighth without the need of a home run as Mark Trumbo's two-out, two-run single up the middle followed a single by Manny Machado and a double by Jonathan Schoop.

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