One of the lingering images for manager Buck Showalter from last night’s 9-8 victory over the Indians involved rookie outfielder Xavier Avery.
Not the home run swing. Not the trip around the bases. Not the catch to end the game. Just the smile.
Xavier Avery actually smiled.
“This is the about the first unabashed smile we’ve gotten out of him out in the public eye,” Showalter said.
Avery laughed when Showalter’s comment was relayed to him.
“He’s probably right,” Avery said. “I’m just focused a lot on the game. Even after the homer, I was trying to refocus and get the smile off my face because it was still a close game. But during that time, I was smiling.”
Fans in the left field seats gave Avery a rousing ovation as he took his position for the top of the ninth inning.
“You know, I felt a little tingly inside,” he said. “But you know, I looked up at the board and I was like, oh snap, everybody is looking. And I’m looking around, and I don’t see none of my teammates running out with me and I’m like, OK, OK. But I kept smiling as I ran out the whole time. I was trying to refocus actually, because the game was still on the line, but it felt good. It felt good to run out there with a smile on my face.”
Yes, Avery said, “Oh snap.” And it won’t be the last time. Wait for it.
That run turned out to be huge because the Indians scored once in the ninth to cut the deficit to one.
“That’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s always a plus when you help your team get the W. It really wouldn’t have meant a lot if we didn’t get a win with it. But we got a win with it, so it means a whole lot.”
Avery went to the opposite field against Indians reliever Chris Perez, and he had no idea that the ball would clear the fence.
“I didn’t know I got it,” he said. “Oppo? Definitely not. That’s why I was running hard out of the box. I was like, all right, I’m about to try to get a triple if it hits off this wall and he doesn’t get it. But as I rounded first and I looked up, I was like, oh snap, I caught that one.”
Someone with the Orioles retrieved the ball for Avery.
“They didn’t throw it back in. Somebody went out there and got it,” Avery said. “They said an Indians fan caught it. Whoever that guy was, thanks. Thanks for giving me my first home run ball. It means a lot to me.”
Did Avery give up anything in trade?
“I haven’t seen the guy,” he said. “If I was to see him, I’d give him an autograph. I’ll autograph anything he wants for that ball.”
Avery still had a little shaving cream in his left ear from the “pie” that Adam Jones delivered.
“I didn’t even see him coming,” Avery said. “I had the headset on talking to MASN. I didn’t even see it coming. I wasn’t looking out for it. But it felt good to get.
“I can still taste the shaving cream on my lips. I’ve got to say, it tastes good, too.”
It probably tastes like victory.
Or shaving cream.