Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said he's been feeling more comfortable at the plate for more than a week, and now he's starting to the see the power-production results to show for it.
Davis reached base five times in the Orioles' 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium and homered for the second straight game after receiving a day off in Friday night's series opener.
His leadoff homer in the second inning off right-hander Chris Young gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead Sunday. On Saturday night, his solo homer tied the game at 3. Before his Saturday home run, Davis had homered just once over his previous 24 games.
Sunday's blast, which came on an elevated 88-mph fastball, landed in the Orioles' bullpen in right field. It marked the first time Davis had homered in consecutive games since Sept. 5-6.
All six of Davis' homers this season have been with the bases empty.
Davis also singled and walked three times, raising his team-high walk total to 22. Davis' on-base percentage is .368, trailing only outfielder Seth Smith's .395 among Orioles regulars.
"I feel better the last few games," Davis said. "Really, I started to feel a lot better at the plate in the Chicago [White Sox] series [which ended May 7]. I hit a few balls that didn't have much to show for it, but I think overall, my at-bats have felt a lot calmer, a lot more comfortable. Hopefully, I can keep that going."
Since Davis had a three-hit game in the series opener against the White Sox, he is hitting .346 (9-for-26) over his past eight games, raising his season batting average from .226 to .252. He has reached base safely in 11 straight games.
Orioles add Bleier to bullpen mix: The Orioles added left-hander Richard Bleier before Sunday's series finale, recalling the multi-inning reliever from Triple-A Norfolk and optioning left-hander Vidal Nuño to the Tides.
Bleier, who arrived in Kansas City on Saturday night with Sunday's day-after-night game, was pressed into action early after starter Kevin Gausman lasted just 3 1/3 innings. He provided two innings of relief, allowing three runs — two earned — and was the losing pitcher.
Much as T.J. McFarland did in recent years, Bleier gives Orioles manager Buck Showalter a left-handed long reliever behind right-handed starters.
"We really didn't want to send Richard [to the minors] the first time," Showalter said before the game. "We just got into a bind with things and his time was up. This was his eligibility date. We were going to try to get him back when that time came up. I'm hoping we can settle in and not have to do a lot of this movement in a perfect world."
Bleier, an early-spring training trade acquisition from the New York Yankees, has pitched well at Triple-A, moving himself up on the depth chart of optionable relievers who can be summoned from Norfolk. Sunday was the first day Bleier was eligible to return to the Orioles after spending the 10 days in the minors needed to remain in order to be recalled (barring moves that are part of a corresponding DL move).
"I don't think it's frustrating," Bleier said of moving up and down. "I think that honestly, I look at that I'm thankful for the opportunity that I'm one of the guys that's up and down. I'm sure that a lot of guys would gladly be in my position, at least getting opportunities in the big leagues. I'm just thankful for every day in the big leagues I get. One day at a time, really."
Despite right-hander Alec Asher pitching 2 2/3 relief innings in Saturday's loss, Asher dodged being optioned and remained on the 25-man roster.
"I think Asher is capable of being a major league starter, too, but it's all about serving the needs of the major league club, and sometimes that's going down there and being ready when something happens to a starter. I think we're close enough now that if we needed him to spot-start, we'd be OK. It's another good thing about him having long outings out of the 'pen because it keeps him in the starter mix, but if we get to seven [relievers], that's going to be hard to do because you're going to have shorter outings by people."
Jones sits in series finale: Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Sunday as Showalter said he wanted Jones to get the benefit of receiving two consecutive days off with the team idle Monday.
"He's banged up," Showalter said. "He's got a sore hip. He's diving and different stuff. He's just generally banged up like a lot of guys are."
Jones made a diving attempt on Lorenzo Cain's double in the third inning Saturday, and charged Jorge Soler's looping hit in the sixth with another dive.
"Adam had a couple of awkward [moments]," Showalter said. "He's never going to come [tell me]. I talked to him during the game. He's always, 'I'm good to go, let's go.' I haven't had many pass my way like Adam. I'll tell you, this guy is tough as nails. He loves to play and he's a — I don't want to say throwback because that's a poor reflection on today's guys — but Adam could have played in any era."
Showalter also gave shortstop J.J. Hardy Sunday off to give him consecutive days off.
Kim starts in left: Hyun Soo Kim, whose starts against right-handed starters have diminished because of rookie Trey Mancini's emergence, received his first start since May 5 and went 1-for-2 with a walk before Mancini pinch hit for him in the seventh.
Kim, who led the club with a .382 on-base percentage last season, entered Sunday's game with a .222/.300/.311 hitting line, going 10-for-45 in 17 games.
"We try to keep everybody involved, but it's tough, it's tough," Showalter said. "It's a convenient excuse if you choose it to be and probably a valid one, but our guys really haven't shown that one."
Around the horn: The pink jerseys worn Saturday and Sunday for Mother's Day will be autographed and auctioned at orioles.com/auction to benefit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center's John Fetting Fund for Breast Cancer Prevention. Last season, the auction raised more than $19,000. … Orioles catching prospect Chance Sisco homered for the first time this season for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, hitting a two-run pinch hit homer in the ninth inning to send the game to extra innings.