Chris Davis has two career pinch-hit home runs, the first coming on May 14, 2009.
Tonight’s shot figures to stay with him a lot longer.
Davis ran the count full against White Sox reliever Ronal Belisario with two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and launched a slider into the right field seats for a walk-off home run that gave the Orioles a 6-4 win over the White Sox at Camden Yards.
Davis is 5-for-13 with two homers and five RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
Manager Buck Showalter sent Davis to the plate for Delmon Young, who was 3-for-4 with a double tonight. Davis had four hits in his last 36 at-bats, but Showalter made the move and it paid off handsomely.
“It’s not a bad decision. Both of them,” Showalter said. “Chris was 1-for-1 off Belisario, but Delmon messed it up by being 2-for-2 off him. So, not really a bad (decision).
“Delmon did a good job for us again tonight. I can’t tell you how hard that is to sit around like Delmon has and come in there and face Chris Sale and get two hits off him. I thought Caleb (Joseph) had a big home run to get us back there. (Brad) Brach had two good innings. I thought Wei-Yin (Chen) was good again.”
Nobody stole the show quite like Davis.
“Chris and I talked a little bit about how much I wanted to get Delmon in there for some at-bats,” Showalter said. “From like the fifth inning on, he was up the runway preparing for an at-bat. Put a good swing on, I think a breaking ball.”
Davis didn’t do much pinch-hitting while belting 53 home runs last season.
“Probably not in the last couple years, but he probably has at some point,” Showalter said. “It’s tough, I’m sure, but he prepared himself for it. There’s no woe is me. He knows at some point the club’s going to need a good at-bat from him and he prepared himself for it from about the fifth inning on.”
The Orioles went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10, but still managed to move five games above .500 for the first time since May 11.
“It’s tough because we feel like we had a lot of opportunities. We just couldn’t cash them in,” Showalter said. “We had some good innings. We just couldn’t finish them off with that one big...
“I’m real proud of everybody after you face (Masahiro) Tanaka yesterday and sitting there with Chris Sale today and you’ve got (Jose) Quintana tomorrow, who’s a good pitcher. It’s the big leagues. A challenge around every corner.”
Joseph hit his second home run in two nights and finished with the first three-hit game of his major league career. Is he exuding more confidence while getting most of the starts with Matt Wieters out for the year?
“Depends how you define ‘confidence,’” Showalter replied. “When you work as hard as he has at 27, 28 to get here, he’s had a few people along the way who probably didn’t think he could. And I don’t think he ever takes an at-bat or a start or an opportunity for granted. He’s had to work so hard to get here and I think he understands...
“I think guys who go down that path understand how hard it is to get here and probably it’s harder to stay here. I think, we don’t put too much pressure on him and Nicky (Hundley), but they realize that Matty ain’t coming back this year, so they know that we’re counting on them to be good.”
Can a win like tonight’s provide a big lift for the club?
“It depends on how good Miguel is tomorrow and how good Quintana is,” Showalter said. “We lose a tough game in New York and is the sky falling? No. You can’t let it. Does this mean you can relax your guard tomorrow and it’ll just happen naturally? No. But there are certainly things you gain from it that you always it’s always there. But this season is so long and so challenging.
“That’s what’s so great about playoffs, because if you can get there, there’s a different mentality. As the games start dwindling after the break, you know the sense of there will be another opportunity to get it going isn’t there as much. And that’s what we’ve got to stay away from is, well we’ll get it tomorrow. Our guys don’t live in that moment. It’s so easy to do that because there are so many games in a baseball season that you’ve got to fight that mentality of saying, ‘It’s just one of those things and we’ll get it tomorrow.’ These guys realize this is going to be hard to do and it’s not for weak of knees.”
The Orioles remain 1 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East. They’ve won five of their last six games under trying circumstances.
“You talk about what-ifs all the time,” Showalter said. “There are certain guys you place at a different level. We’re going to replace everybody, including me and you. We’re all going to be replaced at some point, and you realize there are other people who can do these jobs as well as we can. But nobody’s trying to be Matt, but you’re trying to bring something that maybe somebody else can.
“I don’t know. It’s the want-to. Guys like Caleb and Nick are trying to establish themselves. They don’t like why it’s appeared, but they like the fact that they’re getting opportunities and they’ve got to take advantage of it, because you never know what the future will bring for any of us.”