Chris Davis Grand Slam Saves Jekyll and Hyde Orioles


Aug 5, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) celebrates with catcher Caleb Joseph (36) and third baseman Manny Machado (13) after hitting a grand slam against the Oakland Athletics during the tenth inning at Coliseum. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-3 in extra innings. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake about it, the 7-3, 10th-inning Chris Davis grand slam-powered win of the Orioles over the Oakland A’s was a huge victory for the Birds. It won the series in a place where victories have been historically difficult to gain. It makes for a “happy flight” to Los Angeles and an off day before taking on the Angels. And it moves the record to 55-52, rather than 54-53, keeping pace in the Wild Card chase (if not the divisional pursuit — Jays won, Yankees lost).

Indeed the Orioles are a sort of Jekyll and Hyde outfit — on Monday playing perhaps their best game of the year and knocking the ball all over the park in a 9-2 win, but on Tuesday looking the polar opposite in a 5-0 defeat.

This Wednesday afternoon game could have surely turned out very differently. Wei-Yin Chen, who came into the game averaging 1.9 walks per inning, simply did not have command and walked four batters in his five innings of work, also allowing three runs on four hits.

Without doubt, the A’s had plenty of opportunities to X-out the O’s! Orioles pitchers allowed three leadoff doubles as well as an additional leadoff walk followed immediately by a double. Five of the eight Oakland total hits were doubles. But the A’s were a combined 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

So whereas the Orioles pitchers allowed too many runners in scoring position, they made a sufficient number of critical pitches to keep the team in the game until Davis could clear the bases with one swing in the 10th inning. The bullpen gave the Orioles five scoreless innings, including 2.1 from Zach Britton who was the winning pitcher.

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It was finally in the 10th inning when the Orioles were able to put together a rally. Caleb Joseph continued his torrid hitting of late by leading off with a single. While attempting to steal on a 3-2 count, Manny Machado lined a single through the right side of the infield. A’s manager Bob Melvin elected to intentionally walk Gerardo Parra to set up a force at home. This is a move that can be argued two ways as to its wisdom. I suspect it is not receiving warm reviews in Oakland today. It can be a bit odd to walk the bases loaded with none out in order to face Adam Jones and Chris Davis.

At first, the strategy seemed to work, as Jones hit an infield pop. But on a 3-2 count, Davis “touched” a ball over the left-center field wall 400’ away. It was just an easy and relaxed swing to make contact. That is amazing when Davis has the ball jump off his bat in such easy fashion.

So the Orioles have a day off before facing the Angels — a team that is loaded with powerful talent, but that has also not been playing well at all. They are 3-10 over the past 13 games.

The O’s need better starting pitching for sure, and hopefully Chris Tillman will be able to return to the rotation on Sunday.

Come back tomorrow for some discussions on the recent hitting of Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph.

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