After struggles that saw him go 4-for-36 over his previous nine games and with a batting average of just .187 in June, Chris Davis stepped to the plate in the ninth inning tonight and hit a walk-off, three-run homer for the Orioles.
Davis didn’t start tonight’s game, but he certainly ended it with a shot to right-center on a 3-2 pitch from Ronald Belisario. It turned what looked like it would be a frustrating one-run loss into an uplifting 6-4 win to start an 11-game homestand.
It was the Orioles’ first pinch-hit, walkoff homer since Aug. 24, 1988 when Larry Sheets hit one against Seattle.
It was Davis’ second career pinch-hit homer. He hit one May 14, 2009. It was the Orioles’ fifth walk-off win of the season and second by a homer. Matt Wieters hit one in the second game of the May 1 doubleheader with Pittsburgh.
“It’s good. Anytime you can deliver and come through for your team, it’s big,” Davis said. “Like I said earlier today, I’ve been working as hard as I can to get back on track. Just know that as long as I continue to work the results will be there.”
Can one swing help turn around his season?
“I definitely think you can build off it,” he said. “I was really proud of the at-bat. After I got down 0-1, just trying to elevate the ball and get a pitch out over the plate. (I) Was able to lay off some pitches. I was happy with the at-bat and the result.
“Nice spot to be in with the game on the line. Obviously you want to deliver. When I got down 0-1, just tried to shorten up, see the ball out over the plate and get a good pitch to hit.”
What was Davis’ approach as he was on the bench for eight innings and then called on in such a big spot in the ninth?
“Just something you had to adjust to,” he said. “It actually gives you a chance to swing a little bit, right before you go out there and get hot. But you have to lock down and focus in, especially in that situation knowing that your at-bat could mean the game.
“Mentally I’m in the same place I’ve been all year. It’s frustrating to struggle but the at the same time, no one will feel sorry for you. You have to trust the results will be there.
“I hit it good but I saw a couple of balls that were hit good to center tonight that didn’t go. So I was kind of watching the right fielder to see if he was going to run out of room and eventually he did.”
Maybe now the Orioles are beginning to take off a little bit. This was their fifth win in six games and eighth in the past 12 as they improved to 40-35.
“It’s huge. We came off a really productive road trip where we beat some tough pitchers. Things are starting to come together now. When you start a long homestand you want to get a win. Especially against a pitcher as tough as Chris Sale.”
The night for Davis ended with a taste of pie. Right before Adam Jones plunked him with it.
“It was chocolate,” Davis said, laughing. “He told he was going to pie before he even came out there. I told him to make sure it was something tasty. I appreciate him letting me taste it before he smashed my face.”
Other clubhouse quotes after a win that moves the Orioles (40-35) five games over .500 for the first time since they were 20-15 on May 11.
Wei-Yin Chen on his outing and pitching against Chris Sale: “I didn’t feel great out there. I felt okay out there, my performance is okay out there. Chris Sale is a very good pitcher but we had a lot of good hitters in our lineup. I never worry about how many runs we’re going to score. I believe our lineup can score enough runs. The home run gave us a win. It was great.”
Caleb Joseph on the win: “What a great win by the boys. CD coming off the bench and hitting a big one for us. People don’t realize how hard it is to sit the whole game and then come in and deliver. He’s been grinding. Couldn’t happen to be a better guy and we’re really excited for him. It’s about time we won one of these games. Feels really good. We’re feeling confident right now.”
Joseph on a roller coaster night ending with a win in the ninth: “You know the feel on the bench was there was no panic. We felt like we were getting Sale early on and then we had some missed opportunities. They make a few big hits there. Steve Pearce great job getting on base.
“As soon as he got on base, the life starting coming in. Then the crowd got into it and then we’re rolling after that. Great come from behind win for us.”
Joseph on two homers in two days: “Feels better talking about it after a win, I’ll tell you that. It takes some time. I’ve been saying for weeks now I feel confident up there and my teammates have been showing faith in me.
“It’s good that some hard work is paying off. I’m not there yet, but I’m feeling confident each and every day that my approach and what I’m working is going to eventually produce good fruit. I’m excited about it.”