TORONTO - He may have homered with three RBIs Friday night, giving his team the run production that was often expected when he signed his big contract, but not much changed last night for Chris Davis.
He still doesn’t seem to have an answer for how he can do that more often and manager Brandon Hyde made no postgame pronouncements or promises that Davis would play more often now. He’s been only a sometimes starter recently and often is batting down near the bottom of the order.
But for a night , Davis resembled the player that has had a couple of big years for the Orioles. His solo homer in the second provided the team a 1-0 lead and his two-run single to center in the ninth provided big insurance runs in a 4-1 win over Toronto.
“I like where Chris is at and I like to play other guys, too,” Hyde said in his office after the game. “So I’m not going to change. On a nightly basis, I will put out the lineup I feel is best for that night. And, you know, if it’s a tough left-hander, I might not play him that day. That’s kind of the way it is.”
Davis, hitting .175/.260/.301 with six homers, 19 RBIs and a .560 OPS at game time, produced his first multi-RBI game since he drove in two runs May 10 versus the Los Angeles Angels. This was his sixth multi-RBI game for the year.
From May 11-July 3, Davis went 30 games, 95 at-bats and 105 plate appearances with just three RBIs. He matched that total in one night.
“I’m seeing the ball a little better and not fighting myself as much,” said Davis, who is 8-for-23 his last seven games with two homers in his past three games. “Just taking advantage of pitches in the zone. When I’m struggling, I’m fouling off or swinging through those pitches. Feel like I’m seeing the ball a little better.”
Davis said he doesn’t know why he has started hitting better in recent games.
“I have no idea. Wish I did,” he said. “That would make this game a lot easier. Maybe it’s getting a break here or there, trying to string some good at-bats together. It comes and goes. Honestly, if I knew what it was that made me tick, I’d be a lot better player.”
Davis said he also understands that Hyde needs him to be more consistently productive to play him more - and that one game won’t change that.
“Absolutely,” said Davis. “You know, we talked about it before the season started. I understand what my role is, whether I’m in the lineup or not. There is not much you can really say when you’re hitting .170. But I’ve come here every day ready to play, whether it’s off the bench or in the lineup. If I’m not out there to start the game, I’ll be in the dugout picking up my teammates. You know, that’s what it’s all about.”
By the way, Hyde was a big fan of the O’s approach on offense in the ninth last night. The inning included Renato Núñez drawing a walk and Anthony Santander dropping a sac bunt ahead of Davis’ two-run single.
“For me, that’s winning baseball,” Hyde said. “We’ve done that a little bit lately, which I’d like to continue to do. We’re not going to hit a ton of homers, so we have to manufacture (runs) to extend leads and stay in games. I think we’ve executed well late in the game offensively lately.”
Dylan Bundy took a shutout to the seventh and allowed one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings in one of his best outings of the year. He came within an out of giving the Orioles their seventh outing of the season of seven or more innings.
Hyde said reliever Mychal Givens was not available last night because he was sore from his dive to get an out at home plate on Wednesday. But he should be able to pitch today. The O’s used three relievers last night and Paul Fry got a save as Givens stayed in the bullpen.
Right-hander Josh Lucas was optioned to Triple-A after Friday’s game.
With back-to-back wins, the Orioles go today for a three-game win streak. Their season high win streak is four in a row at New York and Toronto from March 30-April 2.
Over the last two games, O’s starters Bundy and John Means allowed three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings. Over the past seven games, O’s starters have pitched to an ERA of 2.18. O’s pitching has allowed two runs or less in four of the past seven games.