BOSTON - The Orioles are continuing their series against the Red Sox this afternoon with clouds in the forecast but minus the huge one that hung over the clubhouse while Chris Davis struggled to get a hit.
Players had Davis’ back. They grew more protective of him as stories of the hitless streaks appeared daily.
If anyone doubted the closeness of this group of players, it should be put to rest.
Check the reaction in the dugout after his two-run single in the first inning. And how players waited for him to get back in the clubhouse after his postgame interview on MASN.
Davis wasn’t placed in a laundry cart and doused with beer and anything else within reach, but teammates celebrated him. Celebrated the end of the streaks and storylines.
“Oh, you know, we just cheered him on,” Andrew Cashner said with a smile. “That’s it.”
Oh, there was more.
“Just pounding all the lockers and everything,” said third baseman Rio Ruiz. “He came in with his fists up in the air and it was great.”
It felt like players were determined to support Davis and make certain that his breakout game wouldn’t be wasted. They scored nine runs with 13 hits. They never trailed.
A team that’s developing an early reputation as a slow starter at the plate led 2-0 in the first inning and 7-2 in the sixth. Davis had three hits and Jonathan Villar, Trey Mancini, Renato Núñez and Ruiz each had two.
“Up and down the order,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
“That’s a grind an at-bat mentality, it’s a pass-the-baton mentality. That’s what good teams have, unselfish at-bats. It’s egoless and you’re just trying to get the next guy up by seeing pitches and by being able to move the ball with two strikes and situational hits. It’s contagious. So to see how our at-bats were today, it’s a really good sign.
“We’ve been grinding our at-bats. Nobody’s throwing away ABs. Everybody’s looking to stay in the middle of the field and have productive at-bats and we got a lot of good results.”
The importance of wins for a pitcher is minimized as the game marches forward, but Cashner has three of them to rank second in the majors. He’s working to lower the 5.31 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, but he got on a nice roll yesterday with seven batters retired in a row heading into the sixth and only eight and 10 pitches thrown in the fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I think he threw strikes,” Hyde said. “I actually thought he got stronger in the third and the fourth, and the fifth, he was still throwing 95 (mph), touching 96 at times, so he was throwing strikes. And with a lead throwing strikes and making them beat you with the bat was pivotal.
“He did a great job of being aggressive.”
John Means gets his second start today and is making his second career appearance at Fenway Park.
The left-hander’s major league debut, and his only appearance in 2018, came against the Red Sox in the first game of a Sept. 26 doubleheader in Boston. He relieved Donnie Hart, who replaced opener Ryan Meisinger and allowed five runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings in a 19-3 drubbing.
(Meisinger wasn’t referred to as the opener that day, but if it quacks like a duck ...)
J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer off Means in the fourth inning, but more attention was given to infielder Jace Peterson, who shed his infielder status and allowed four runs in the eighth.
Weird things seem to happen here.
Left-hander David Price has allowed eight runs and 12 hits with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings this season.
Davis is 11-for-43 (.256) with two home runs and 20 strikeouts against Price. Joey Rickard is 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles. Mancini is 4-for-16 (.250) with a double and two home runs.