Chris Davis watches the flight of his second home run of Friday… (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore…)
When designated hitter Chris Davis walked up to home plate in Friday's eighth inning after homering in his initial three at-bats — the first Oriole to do that in six years and the second time it has happened in a game involving the club this week — he had just one thought in his mind.
“I was thinking about trying to work a walk,” Davis deadpanned. “I really wanted to see some pitches.”
Yes, he was kidding.
In the Orioles' 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, Davis became just the 19th player in franchise history to homer three times in a game. He had a chance to become the first Oriole to hit four, but Toronto reliever Brad Lincoln struck him out on four pitches in the eighth.
“He gave me a good pitch to hit on the first pitch and I fouled it off. He was tough after that,” Davis said. “But the biggest thing is we get the win and I enjoyed a pretty good night.”
As Davis walked back to the dugout after that at-bat, he received yet another standing ovation from the announced crowd of 25,754 at Camden Yards. The cheers in the sixth, though, were so loud that Davis had to step out of the dugout and take a curtain call — he tipped his helmet quickly and dipped back out of sight — to get the ovation to subside.
“I don't know if I handled it right. I kind of just popped out my head. I don't like the spotlight a lot, if you don't know that already,” said the gregarious Davis. “I just think these fans have been great. It was good to see a lot of people in the stands tonight. I think it's going to be crucial coming down the home stretch to have them behind us.”
With the win, the Orioles (68-57) remain in a tie with the Oakland A's for the second wild-card spot in the American League. They are five games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East, and 1 1/2 games behind the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the wild-card race.
This one had all kinds of connections to history — thanks to Davis. He's just the seventh Oriole to hit three homers in a game in Baltimore, joining Bobby Grich (1974), Juan Beniquez (1986) and Randy Milligan (1990), who all did it at Memorial Stadium, and Roberto Alomar (1997), Albert Belle (1999) and Nick Markakis (2006) at Camden Yards.
Unlike Markakis, who homered three times Aug. 22, 2006 against Minnesota's Carlos Silva, Davis punished two separate pitchers. He hit solo shots against Carlos Villanueva (6-4) in the second and fourth and a two-run homer off Steve Delabar in the sixth.
Davis is the third player since 1900 to homer three times in a game and get credited with a win in the same season (he pitched two innings May 6 in Boston for the 17-inning victory). Babe Ruth did it for the Yankees in 1930, and the Boston Braves' Jim Tobin accomplished the feat in 1942.
“It's been crazy. Played the outfield, obviously pitched., DH'd quite a bit,” Davis said. “It's been a lot of fun. There's been some tough times, but I feel the good outweigh the bad by far.”
The Orioles are the first major league team to be involved in consecutive games in which a player has hit three homers. Texas' Adrian Beltre homered three times against the Orioles on Wednesday in Arlington. Earlier this year, Texas' Josh Hamilton hit four homers against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
"It's about time. We've had it done to us,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter of Davis' power display. “Chris was kind of pressing a little bit there in Texas. He put some good swings on the ball. He's a strong young man. … It was a good night for him, obviously, and I thought he handled it well.”
After the third homer, most of Davis' teammates crowed the dugout railing to congratulate him. He slapped Showalter's hand with such force he left a mark.
“He makes a point of hitting my hand extra hard [after a homer],” Showalter said. “Good thing I don't have to play. I've got a pretty red one tonight.”
Davis entered the night one homer shy of his career high of 21, which he hit in 2009 with the Texas Rangers. He now has 23.
His first home run Friday landed onto Eutaw Street behind the right-field flag court. That one had some Camden Yards significance attached to it. It was Davis' third onto Eutaw in 2012, and the ninth hit there during a game this year, snapping the Eutaw Street record of eight in 2008.
Davis' second homer, also a towering fly, landed in the right-field seats above the grounds-crew shed. His third home run was a little different, an opposite field shot that went over the left-field wall.
"I thought they were all needed,” Showalter said. “It's not like they were pile-on runs. It was runs we knew we were probably going to need.”
Orioles lefty Zach Britton did nothing historic Friday, but he was excellent for the second straight outing.