Orioles manager Johnny Oates had said he wanted to make first baseman Glenn Davis' return to the lineup a gradual one.
But he got an opportunity to get Davis, absent for six weeks with a rib-cage muscle strain, back into competition quickly last night, when the Minnesota Twins yanked right-handed starter Kevin Tapani in the fourth for left-handed reliever Mark Guthrie.
Davis pinch hit for designated hitter Sam Horn in the fifth, grounding out to third, and batted again in the seventh, striking out.
Davis said he felt "really good," but that "everything was just in fast motion, super speed. Everything was happening fast."
The crowd greeted him warmly, and Davis said he was touched by the response.
"It gave me an indication of the true fan reaction. It told me that the things that were being said were not the true response," said Davis. "That's super for me."
Oates announced before the game that, with Bill Krueger, a left-hander, going for Minnesota tonight, Davis will start at DH.
Oates said he planned to use Davis first as a pinch hitter, then at DH, then back in at first base for nine innings.
In fact, the manager said that if the Texas Rangers had brought in a left-handed reliever in the sixth inning Tuesday, he would have sent Davis, who was reactivated after Monday night's win over the Rangers, to the plate as a pinch hitter.
Oates is faced with the task of finding at-bats and playing time for Davis at a time when Randy Milligan and David Segui are playing well at first.
Milligan has reached base 13 times in his past six games, and was hitting .333 with runners in scoring position before last night.
Segui, who can play in the outfield, has hit in six straight games, batting .381 during that span.
C7 But Oates stressed they all would get in some work.
Tickets and such
Last night's attendance of 35,550 was the smallest of the 13 crowds at Camden Yards, and the second time this week the team has drawn fewer than 40,000 fans. (Monday's crowd against Texas was 36,511.)
Still, the team has drawn 559,237, an average of 43,018. About 3,000 tickets remain for tonight's series finale against Minnesota, and about 1,000 seats are left for each of the three games this weekend against the Chicago White Sox.
Still homer happy?
The Orioles ran their streak of games with at least one homer to 11.
At Oriole Park, the team has hit at least one homer in each of its past seven games.
The Orioles have exceeded their 18-9 start twice in their 38-year history -- in 1969 and 1970, when they were 19-8 through their first 27 games. . . . The Orioles went 1-for-2 last night with the bases loaded, to bring their seasonal average to .542 (13-for-24). . . . They've outscored opponents 77-32 at Camden Yards, outhit them .285 to .194 and pitched to an ERA of 2.24 here.