Notes on Chris Davis, Manny Machado and more

The Orioles are off today. The schedule says they don’t have a game. They just played 20 in a row. Let them rest.

The same goes for everyone who’s covered all 20 games.

Sleep came more easily to the Orioles last night following a 7-6 11-inning win over the Rays. Chris Davis hit his fourth career walk-off home run, the ball traveling so far that I had already tweeted the result before it landed. There was no doubt from the moment that it left his bat, which Davis flipped in relief as much as excitement.

The Orioles needed this one badly. And hey, they’re now three games ahead of the last-place Red Sox.

Davis also homered Tuesday night, but it gained notice only because it prevented the Orioles from being shut out. They were down 11-0 in the ninth inning. Didn’t seem that important otherwise, but manager Buck Showalter shared a story of how Davis asked if he could stay in the game as other regulars were removed.

Ryan Flaherty replaced Manny Machado at third base. Jimmy Paredes was inserted in right field, with Dariel Alvarez sliding over to replace Adam Jones in center. Steve Clevenger moved behind the plate, with Matt Wieters going to the bench.

Showalter was going to put Clevenger at first base until Davis asked if he could keep playing. “If it’s all the same to you,” he said.

It wasn’t about getting an extra at-bat, he said. He just wanted to stay in the game.

davis-white-home-run-stare-against-astros-sidebar.jpg“I understand Jonesy playing center field every day, Manny playing third every day,” Davis said. “I got to DH in Texas and had a chance to get my legs under me a little bit. I wanted to stay in the game. I didn’t like the way things were going. I didn’t like the way I was playing. I just wanted to try to get something started and continue to play hard, have a good at-bat.”

Maybe it led to a couple of good at-bats last night that ended in home runs, the game-winner traveling at least 450 feet.

“There may have been some carryover, but I think more than anything it’s just an attitude,” Davis said. “It’s not over. Enough’s enough and just trying to turn it around.”

When Davis hit the home run Tuesday night, he dropped his bat, glanced at the dugout and pointed to Showalter. It was a subtle gesture that went unnoticed by most of the people in the ballpark. Showalter saw it, took it has a “thank you” and smiled.

How can you not love baseball?

I’ve been asked what went wrong Tuesday in the third inning when Machado failed to tag up and score on Steve Pearce’s pop up to shallow center field. Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe made the catch with his back to the infield and had no chance at unleashing an accurate throw home.

Machado stayed at third base and was stranded when Jones struck out.

Showalter has cited a few examples of the Orioles getting caught “watching the paint dry.” I asked him if such lapses get under his skin more than a poorly located fastball or double play ball.

“Right now, they all get under your skin and I know the fans, too,” Showalter said. “Yeah, that’s a play we have to tag on. Bobby Dickerson, who’s as good a third base coach as there is in baseball, was telling him to tag all the way and Manny just thought it might be a short-hop in the outfield.

“If you notice, Tampa plays the deepest outfield in baseball. That’s why they’re able to make some plays at the wall, but it’s also why a lot of balls fall in front of them, so you kind of know when that ball leaves the bat, the second baseman’s going to catch it moving away or it’s going to fall because of how deep their outfield plays.

“He’s a young player who learns from it and it won’t happen again.”

If you’re keeping track, the Orioles are now 26-3 when Jonathan Schoop hits a home run in his career. His two-run shot last night tied the game in the ninth.

The Blue Jays have made an adjustment to their rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles. David Price moves up to start Saturday afternoon and Mark Buehrle is bumped back to Sunday afternoon. Flip-flopping left-handers.

I’m making an adjustment today by playing a couple sets of tennis and hanging out later with an old friend from middle and high school. Enjoy the off-day.

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