Last night, Chris Davis looked like the Chris Davis we all remembered from the past two seasons and even spring training this year. But somewhere along the road of life that was strewn with odd pitching strategies and the ever-lurking oblique injury, our Chris Davis got off the highway and has not been seen much lately.
Well, he’s back … at least for one night. Three homers were “swatted” over the right-field walls – balls just totally “spanked” and slapped out of the park.
The first of the three jacks was especially back-breaking for the Pirates in the fifth inning. It was on the heels of Adam Jones doubling home Manny Machado to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead. A moment later it was 5-1; and a moment after that it was 6-1 on a Nelson Cruz homer. Game over, final score was 9-2, including the additional two homers by Davis. At this moment he has hit homers in three consecutive at-bats, so he could conceivably keep it going this evening.
Like all Orioles-oriented sports sites, we regularly delve deeply into varied analyses about what needs to be done, what is working, what is broken, etc. … often citing piles of statistics. But honestly, what the Orioles need is production from the middle of the lineup with Jones-Davis-Cruz. When that happens, the Birds will not be often on the losing end.
Lost in the power surge of Chris Davis was a very fine outing by Miguel Gonzalez. After struggling through the first three innings with 60 pitches, he finished six innings (plus a batter) with 100 and held the Pirates off the decks of the Orioles’ schooner until the offense could sail away from them. Gonzo gave up two runs on seven hits and no walks. He also struck out seven batters with some particularly nasty movement on the put-away pitches.
Weather threatens the game this evening, and if it cannot be played, it will make for some scheduling challenges to find a date later in the season. As much as I truly HATE having to see 76 games played against only four AL East teams, if I had my wish for an even schedule against all teams in MLB, this type of scenario would happen much more.
Pending the weather issues, the Orioles will be facing a pitcher that has not pitched against Baltimore since the fifth game of his career in 2005 with the Astros. Wandy Rodriguez will hope for better results than on that occasion where Melvin Mora drilled a two-run homer in the first inning off him. Jay Gibbons was 3-for-4 in that game won by the Birds 5-1, with eight innings from Rodrigo Lopez.
Ugh! Thinking back to those days! That’s a trip down a memory lane of the sort where your girlfriend said she was dumping you for the village idiot. Let’s talk about something else.
The Orioles will be sending out Chris Tillman for the first time since his fantastic three-hit shutout against Kansas City. Tillman is now 4-2 with a 3.34 ERA.
Even though the Pirates are the team against which Tillman threw 53 pitches in the first inning just three weeks ago, this is a matchup that certainly favors the Orioles significantly. In five starts and 25 innings this season, Rodriguez is 0-2 with a 6.84 ERA. It would be best for Baltimore to kick this Pirates team while they’re down and before they can get on a roll sometime later this summer. So pray for the local rains to water the farmers’ fields outside of town.