BOSTON -- Turns out, a four-game road series against the defending World Series champions is just what Chris Davis and the Orioles needed.
After snapping his historic 62-plate-appearance hitless streak on Saturday, Davis belted his first home run of the season on Monday in the Orioles’ 8-1 win over the Red Sox. The eighth-inning shot to right field off right-hander Heath Hembree soared out of Fenway Park with an exit velocity of 108 mph, according to Statcast.
Davis had not homered since Aug. 24 of last season, a 35-game drought. He had been getting into a rhythm this series with his timing and the way he was seeing his pitches.
“It felt really good, especially since it was the first ball I’ve barreled up in a game,” Davis said, adding, “Any time I can contribute to a win, and not just with defense, it feels [like] a sense of accomplishment.”
Just as the Orioles celebrated the end of Davis’ skid, they praised the home run, too.
“He crushed it,” Dwight Smith Jr., who also homered, said. “That’s his name, ‘Crush,’ for a reason.”
The blast exemplified the fight and resilience the Orioles showed against the Red Sox. Last season they lost the series, 16-3, and they are 244-293 all-time in Boston. A series split wasn’t exactly a given for a team that finished 47-115 in 2018. They also came into Fenway Park having won just one of their past seven games at home.
“We just had that mentality [to succeed] because at our homestand, we didn’t really take it to teams and teams were beating us with the homer,” Smith said. “I feel like we were more aggressive. We played it more our game and made the other team adjust to us more.”
The Orioles have been tested early, already playing six games against the Yankees and four against the A’s before traveling to Boston. They’re showing they’re up for the challenge. Even the losses are lessons, especially this early in the season.
“This game is long. It’s hard and It’ll test you mentally, physically, emotionally,” Davis said. “But you’ve got to be able to turn the page. You’ve got to be able to look forward and kind of put what happened behind you and move on. I think this team has done a great job of that so far, and it’s going to be a test for us moving forward.”
The Orioles improved to 6-2 when scoring first. The were up 4-0 after five innings, and manager Brandon Hyde credited the players for continuing to extend their lead to help give the bullpen rest. He also praised their at-bats (8 runs off 10 hits) and defense in the field.
“I like the way we played the game,” Hyde said. “We’re 7-10, and it could easily be flipped around.”
Hyde was ejected in the bottom of the fifth inning after he challenged slide interference by Rafael Devers at second base. The call was upheld following a review.
“I just didn’t agree with the decision in New York at all,” Hyde said. “If I’m going to disagree with something, I’m going to stand up for what I believe in. And I don’t believe that call was right.”
The attitude around the Orioles after the game was that success can be had if they approach the season one game at a time. They travel to Tampa Bay with an early resume of improvements, and a to-do list for the months that lie ahead.
“We just take it day by day,” Smith said. “Can’t look too far in the future. We just handle tomorrow against the Rays and then just go from there.”