After hitting his second homer since the All-Star break and having his third straight multihit game Friday, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is showing signs of breaking out of his second-half slump.
Davis, who homered off San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain in the fifth inning with a solo opposite-field shot Friday, went 6-for-11 with three runs and two walks over his three games before Saturday. After going homerless in his first 19 games coming out of the break, he homered twice in six games.
As Davis has struggled at the plate, manager Buck Showalter has emphasized his defense at first base and ability to draw walks. Davis went into Saturday third in the American League with 65 walks.
"I don't overthink it," Showalter said. "He's playing such great defense. You don't take it for granted. He makes two plays every night. Our guys just feel like they've got to throw it in the vicinity. He's playing at an elite level defensively. I think there's only two guys who have more walks than him in the league. If he gets the other part of it going a little bit … But he's been a contributor almost every night in some form or fashion."
Showalter was hoping he'd be able to get Steve Pearce in the lineup Saturday against San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. But Showalter said the only way he'd be able to start Pearce would be if he moved Chris Davis to the outfield, indicating that Pearce was limited to playing first base Saturday.
Pearce hasn't played since leaving Sunday's game in Chicago with a right flexor mass strain after making an errant throw from right field, but he has avoided going on the disabled list for now.
Showalter said Pearce would have started at designated hitter Saturday if the Orioles weren't playing in a National League park.
"He may play today [coming off the bench]," Showalter said. "In order to play him and Chris, you'd have to play one of them in the outfield and I didn't want to put Chris in left field today. Steve's a good first baseman, but you're also taking what I think is a Gold Glove first baseman and sticking him out in left field in a place he hasn't played much."
Showalter added that with the Orioles set to face left-handed starters Tuesday and Wednesday at home against the Boston Red Sox, he didn't want to jeopardize Pearce being able to DH on those days.
Pearce entered Saturday hitting .345/.449/.672 against left-handed pitching this season.
Major League Baseball made a scoring change from Friday night's game, taking an infield hit away from third baseman Manny Machado in the fourth inning. On the play, Machado hit a ground ball that deflected off Cain. Even though Machado reached, outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, who was already on second base, was caught in a rundown between second and third. After the league office reviewed the play, the base hit was removed in accordance with rule 9.05(b)(3). Machado was ruled to have reached by a fielder's choice and went 1-for-5 in the game.