Chris Davis hits walk-off, three-run HR in Orioles' 6-4 victory over White Sox


Pinch-hitting for Delmon Young in ninth inning, he blasts game-winning shot

June 24, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

Beginning in the fifth inning, Orioles slugger Chris Davis disappeared down the dugout tunnel to sneak in a few swings inside the batting cages below the seating bowl of Camden Yards, preparing himself in case he was needed in the late innings of Monday night's game against the Chicago White Sox.

The bench hasn't been a familiar place for Davis, but mired in a 7-for-54 slump heading into Monday, that's where the Orioles first baseman found himself in the series opener, watching as his teammates failed to convert numerous scoring opportunities throughout the night.

And when manager Buck Showalter called on Davis to pinch-hit with the Orioles down to their second-to-last out of the game, he washed away all of the club's lost chances with one swing.

Davis crushed a full-count delivery from White Sox closer Ronald Belisario (3-4) deep into the right- field seats for a three-run homer to give the Orioles a 6-4 walk-off win in front of an announced 17,931 at Camden Yards.

“Any time you're able to deliver and come through for your team, it's big,” Davis said. “Like I said earlier today, I'm working as hard as I can to get back on track, doing everything I can and just knowing that as long as I continue to work, the results would be there.”

On a night when the Orioles struggled with runners in scoring position, Davis was patient in the game's final at-bat. After being behind in the count 1-2, Davis took a pair of balls to work a full count before turning on an 82-mph slider.

“It was a nice spot to be in with the game on the line,” Davis said. “Obviously, you want to deliver. When I got down 0-1, to try and shorten up and see the ball up out over the plate and get a good pitch to hit.”

Davis' blast was the Orioles' first pinch-hit, walk-off homer in nearly 26 years, since Larry Sheets hit one against the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 24, 1988.

“It's tough, I'm sure, but he prepared himself for it,” Showalter said of Davis pinch-hitting. “There's no woe is me. He knows at some point the club's going to need a good at-bat from him, and he prepared himself for it from about the fifth inning on."

With the win, the Orioles (40-35) have won three straight and are five games above .500 for the first time since May 11.

Before Davis' homer -- one of three the Orioles hit in the win -- the club had just one hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Steve Pearce, who started at first base in place of Davis, opened the ninth with a single to center and Adam Jones was hit by a pitch to place runners at first and second.

“Once we got [Pearce] on base, the life started coming in,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “And then the crowd got into it, and then we're rolling after that. It was a great come-from-behind win for us.”

After Nelson Cruz struck out, Davis was introduced as a pinch-hitter for Delmon Young, who had three hits, to a rousing ovation.

And when Davis sent the seventh pitch of the at-bat into the right-center-field seats, his Orioles teammates stormed out of the dugout in celebration. He greeted Showalter near the Orioles dugout by emphatically slapping his hands.

“I hit it good, but I saw a couple of balls that were hit really well to center tonight that didn't go,” Davis said. “So I was kind of watching the right fielder to see if he was going to run out of room, and eventually he did.”

It was Davis' second career pinch-hit homer -- the other also was a walk-off blast May 14, 2009 for the Texas Rangers against Seattle.

As they opened a 10-game homestand, the Orioles had several early chances to chase White Sox ace Chris Sale from the game. And despite placing 13 runners on base against Sale -- including a season-high 11 hits allowed by the left-hander -- the Orioles scored just two runs against him in six innings.

Clinging to a one-run lead, the Orioles loaded the bases in both the fourth and fifth innings, but they were unable to score in either frame.

Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop opened the fourth with back-to-back singles and moved into scoring position after Joseph's sacrifice bunt. Nick Markakis was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Sale struck out Pearce and Jones to end the inning.

After three straight singles by the Orioles loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, Machado hit into a force play at home on the second pitch of his at-bat, and Schoop hit into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play on the first pitch of his at-bat.

Joseph's second career homer -- and his second in as many days -- in the eighth inning off White Sox right-hander Zach Putnam made it a one-run game.

Jones put the Orioles up 2-0 on Sale with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning that skipped off the top of the left-center-field fence and into the Orioles bullpen.

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