ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — First baseman Chris Davis’ eighth-inning throwing error was costly in the Orioles’ 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, opening the door to a pair of unearned runs off right-handed reliever Evan Phillips.
And while most of the attention Davis has received this season has been for his struggles at the plate, numbers show a regression on defense as well.
With a runner on first and one out, Matt Duffy’s grounder to first was one that Davis has turned into 3-6-3 double plays many times before, but Davis’ throw to second tailed wide of shortstop Tim Beckham and into left field.
“It’s a play that he’s made a long time,” manager Buck Showalter said. “In fact, it’s something he does real well, so it was very surprising to see, because we have something to gauge it against: how good he’s been at that play. That’s what’s tough. And that wasn’t the whole game. We had the opportunity to push a ball across here and there.”
Davis was a Gold Glove finalist two seasons ago, but in both this season and last, he has posted a negative defensive runs saved figure. This season, his minus-4 defensive runs saved ranks 16th among qualifying major league first baseman. From 2014 to 2016, Davis’ 20 defensive runs saved was tied for fourth best among all big league first basemen over that stretch.
Davis received two games off this past weekend in Texas but still hasn’t been able to gather any positive momentum at the plate. After an 0-for-4, three-strikeout night Tuesday, he is hitting .159/.244/.300 and his 35.2 percent strikeout rate is second highest in the majors. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo has a 35.5 strikeout rate but has hit 29 homers this season compared with Davis’ 13.
“There are a couple games where you think he’s getting ready to have a real streak or spurt or whatever you want to call it, where he’s really making some big contributions,” Showalter said. “We know the potential’s there, but he’s just having a lot of trouble sustaining things for an extended period of time. And that’s been frustrating for him and for us.”
Where does Gentry fit?
Outfielder Craig Gentry began his minor league rehabilitation assignment Tuesday with Double-A Bowie, but once he’s ready to return from the disabled list, his role with a team dedicated to playing its younger players with an eye toward the future is uncertain.
“That’s a question that we’ll have to answer,” Showalter said. “I think everybody loves having Craig on the club. He plays the game the way that you like to see it played, and he’s so versatile. He can do a lot of things.”
Gentry — who could offer a contender a good defensive glove, the capability of playing all three outfield positions and speed on the bases — could be traded this month, provided he clears waivers.
“Every club, including ours, is in need of a guy like Craig,” Showalter said. “He’s got some value. But what you perceive as value may not be what another club perceives as value. ... When he gets healthy he’s going to play in the big leagues for somebody. We’ll just see how it fits when that time comes.
“We are closer to September, about three weeks away, so we’ve got some roster room, too.”
Around the horn
Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis was limited in his Tuesday start at Triple-A Norfolk to potentially be available to pitch in one game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. Right-hander Yefry Ramírez will pitch one game of the doubleheader. Right-hander Alex Cobb will start in Sunday’s series finale.