Chris Davis crushes pinch-hit, walk-off HR to play hero for Orioles
BALTIMORE — Hours after reaching the low point of a disappointing and frustrating season, Chris Davis conjured memories of last year with one mighty swing of the bat.
Davis interrupted a rare stint on the bench with a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Baltimore Orioles a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Davis was excluded from the starting lineup after batting just .130 in his previous 14 starts. Called upon by manager Buck Showalter with runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, Davis launched a 3-2 pitch from Ronald Belisario (3-4) into the seats in right field.
“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.”
Davis, who led the majors in home runs and RBIs last year, started the game in the dugout with a .216 batting average and 78 strikeouts in 218 at-bats. When it came time to deliver, though, he was ready.
“There’s no woe is me,” Showalter said. “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.”
Davis ended his night with a celebration at the plate, followed by a pie to the face from teammate Adam Jones during the post-game TV interview.
“It was chocolate,” Davis said. “He told me he was going to pie me before he even came out there, and (I said), ‘Make sure it’s something tasty.’ I appreciate him letting me taste it before he smashed it in my face.”
Jones and Caleb Joseph also homered for the Orioles, who trailed 4-2 in the eighth before rallying to hand the White Sox their fifth straight defeat.
Brad Brach (1-0) pitched two hitless innings for Baltimore.
Jose Abreu hit his 22nd homer and drove in three runs for Chicago, which went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Still, the White Sox were poised to win before Davis connected.
“You got to be able to close it out,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s not easy, especially when they got a guy like Chris on their bench.”
White Sox starter Chris Sale gave up a career-high 11 hits in six innings but was in position to earn his seventh win after leaving with a 3-2 lead. The left-hander walked one, hit a batter and had a season-low three strikeouts.
“My own manager was calling me Houdini,” Sale said.
Chicago trailed 2-1 until Abreu led off the sixth with a drive over the wall in center. Dayan Viciedo followed with a double and Conor Gillaspie chased starter Wei-Yin Chen with a run-scoring double.
An RBI double by Abreu made it 4-2 in the seventh. The rookie ranks third in the AL in home runs and is tied for third with 60 RBIs.
Joseph hit his second homer in two games, a solo shot off Zach Putnam in the eighth. The drive capped the rookie’s first career three-hit game.
That set the stage for Davis’ 13th home run. He hit 53 last year.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the first inning when Steve Pearce walked and Jones followed with a drive to center that bounced off the top of the wall, only the fifth home run allowed by Sale this season.
Chicago got a run back in the third. Adam Eaton reached on an infield hit, Gordon Beckham doubled and Abreu hit a run-scoring groundout.
In the bottom half, Sale struck out Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy after the Orioles put runners on the corners with one out. One inning later, Baltimore loaded the bases with one out before Pearce hit a short fly and Jones struck out.
The trend continued in the fifth, when three straight singles filled the bases with no outs. After Manny Machado hit into a force at the plate, Jonathan Schoop bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.
*Photo courtesy of Mitchell Layton/Getty Images