Through his first 30 games of the season, Chris Davis had hit just three home runs. After hitting a major league-leading 53 home runs in 2013, Davis was on pace to hit less than half of that total this season. Steve Pearce was matching Davis’s power production in half the amount of games played, while Matt Wieters had two more homers in four less games.
The questions were beginning to roll in from Baltimore fans. What’s wrong with Davis? Did he rush back from his oblique injury? Is he being pitched to differently after dominating the league a year ago? Was 2013 a fluke?
Suddenly, with three swings of the bat, all was right again in Charm City. Davis doubled his home run total with a three homer game in the Orioles’ 9-2 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Anyone can hit one home run. Two in a game? Maybe he got lucky. Three? Only the game’s top power hitters can do that. Davis joins Boog Powell and Eddie Murray as the only players in Orioles history to record three-homer games. That’s pretty good company.
Believe it or not, despite crushing 53 baseballs out of ballparks in 2013, Davis didn’t record a three-homer game. I think that actually makes what he did last year even more impressive. His last three-homer game was August 12, 2012.
Speaking of 2012, that wasn’t too bad of a season for the O’s slugger either. He finished the year with 33 dingers, ranking 11th in the majors. Guess how many home runs he had in his first 31 games that season.
Five - just like he does in 2014.
Slow starts can sure be deceiving, huh? In his first nine games last season, Davis hit six home runs, four of which came in the Orioles’ first four games. Who could forget that grand slam in the home opener against the Twins? Then, in Davis’s next 31 games, he hit just five home runs.
The same total he hit in his first 31 games this season. So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
While Davis has been working on his timing and regaining comfort at the plate, the Orioles have another player who has matched his power production. For the first time this season, we saw the Davis and Nelson Cruz go back-to-back, something that O’s fans hope to see much, much more of as the season progresses.
In his first 43 games of the season, Cruz has belted 14 home runs. Adding another to his list last night, Cruz has homered in four of his last seven games. He currently ranks third in the big leagues behind only Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion.
It’s no secret that the Orioles were heavily dependent on the longball in 2013. They led all of baseball with 212 homers and finished with 24 more than any other team. While they haven’t ranked as high so far this season (16th overall), home runs have proven to be important. The O’s have won half of the games that Cruz has homered in and are 7-1 in games in which their lineup hits two or more longballs.
Hopefully, there will be a lot more of those with Davis finding his power stroke.
Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. Follow him on Twitter: @zamwi. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.