Chris Davis Takes RBI Lead with Walk-off Against Switch-Pitcher


Aug 14, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) celebrates with left fielder Gerardo Parra (18) after hitting a seventh inning homer against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore Orioles defeated Oakland Athletics 8-6 in the thirteenth inning. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has been on a total tear since the All-Star Game. He has been hitting home runs and driving in runs at an incredible pace, now leading the league in RBIs.

Davis has come to life at a time when the Orioles desperately needed someone to step up and carry the team for a while. A two-run homer on Friday night put the Orioles into a lead after coming back from a four-run deficit. And a pair of homers on Saturday carried the O’s over the A’s – doing so with a walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

The winning home run — flicked over the right-field wall on a swing where Davis was just making contact out in front of the plate — was hit off the switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. True confession here: I have never writing the word “switch-pitcher” at any time in my life before this paragraph.

This was the fifth career appearance for Venditte, the 30-year-old rookie who does indeed throw with both arms — alternating depending upon the batter. That there was such a player in the major leagues mostly slipped under my radar. I recall someone remarking about this, but the idea of it seemed so remote that I thought they must have heard something wrong.

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Honestly, Venditte looked pretty good in the bottom of the ninth, first retiring Gerardo Parra (who earlier had his first O’s homer to tie the game at 3-3) and Adam Jones prior to Davis coming to bat. Chris looked to be struggling to time the pitches, and he appeared to be on his way to a strikeout. But the home run was a game-winner, and it is the first MLB run surrendered by Venditte and his first career loss.

It could be stated with good support that the first mistake Venditte made with Davis was to pitch against him with his left arm. Davis is hitting .308 against lefties, but only .235 against right-handers. #Switch-PitcherProblems.

The win for the Orioles was their second consecutive walk-off victory. Here is an interesting thought: Recall that two years ago in the 2013 playoffs chase, the killer series of the season was a trio of walk-off losses to the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The O’s never recovered from that. Those games were played on August 12th to 14th of that year. Could the Orioles be having the opposite experience now?  I’m going to REALLY claim that as a truth if they win Sunday’s game in walk-off fashion.

Looking at Some Chris Davis Statistics

Over the past 23 games, Chris Davis is 29-for-85 for a batting average of .341. He has 14 home runs and 35 RBIs in that stretch!  The Orioles are 13-10 in those games.

Davis has also struck out a total of 30 times in those 23 games, registering at least one in all but three contests. That is a lot of striking out, but, with production numbers like those above (that would annualize to 99 homers and 247 RBIs!), who really cares?

Davis does lead the American League in strikeouts with 145 … about 15 more than J.D. Martinez. With three more runs batted in to now total 88, Crush has taken the A.L. lead in that category, passing Josh Donaldson with 86. And Davis is nearing the lead in home runs, having 34. Nelson Cruz has 35 and Mike Trout remains at 33.

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