BALTIMORE -- Chris Davis recognized the pitch up and sprung, hands shooting upward from their load point right around his letters. The fastball buzzed in at 92 mph, sent from Ivan Nova with intention of beating Davis in the place his uppercut swing, for years now, has routinely been slow
BALTIMORE -- Chris Davis recognized the pitch up and sprung, hands shooting upward from their load point right around his letters. The fastball buzzed in at 92 mph, sent from Ivan Nova with intention of beating Davis in the place his uppercut swing, for years now, has routinely been slow to reach.
Davis made contact and leaned, with body language and result offering a sense of nostalgia for the crowd at Oriole Park. Davis was far from the only Orioles batter to go deep during the four-homer barrage that sparked their 9-1 win over the White Sox on Tuesday, but his third-inning blast proved the most notable as the club snapped a four-game losing streak.
It had been a 22-game span dating back to last August 24 since Davis homered at Camden Yards, and far longer since he did so in the style of Tuesday’s opposite-field shot, which traveled a projected 392 feet per Statcast. The more telling number, though, was the 3.6 foot height of the pitch that led to it, the fourth highest fastball Davis has homered against in his career.
“I may run into a few here and there, but consistently, no, I don’t get to that pitch last year,” Davis told MLB.com. “Maybe the last two years.”
Asked to guess the last time he did with such authority, Davis estimated as far back as 2013, when he won the first of his two home run titles. The reality is much kinder, but speaks still to the extent certain glaring holes have chipped away at his former All-Star form. In the nearly two years since Davis got on top of a 3.7-foot heater from Kansas City’s Chris Young on May 14, 2017, he’d been 2-for-53 (.037) on fastballs at least that elevated. Thirty-eight of those attempts (72 percent) resulted in whiffs.
“I’m in a better position to attack the ball now,” Davis said. “The bat path is more direct, there is less wasted movement, and I feel like I’m starting to see a little more of a return at the end of the day.”
Those concepts -- posture, body position, bat path -- have been the pillar of Davis’ focus for months now, both this winter with personal instructor Mike Brumley and during his in-season work with hitting coaches Don Long and Howie Clark. Tuesday’s results provided another tangible payoff for Davis, who has caught fire since his historic hitless streak ended earlier this month. Davis is now 9-for-25 (.360) since snapping his 0-for-54 skid, with five extra-base hits and two home runs. He also improved to 12-for-38 (.316) with five home runs lifetime against Nova, who matched a career high by allowing nine earned runs.
“It’s a positive sign,” Davis said. “It’s good to see a little bit of fruit for all the labor I’ve put in and I’m going to keep going.”
It came Tuesday via a comprehensive Orioles effort that featured every starter reaching base, homers by Renato Núñez, Joey Rickard and Dwight Smith Jr., and Andrew Cashner’s strongest start of the year. Aided by a trio of highlight-reel plays behind him, Cashner completed seven innings for his fourth win, matching his 2018 total through six starts.
Smith launched a three-run blast and stole a homer from Adam Engel to boot, Richie Martin saved another run with a diving stop up the middle and Trey Mancini took an extra-base hit from Jose Abreu with a lunging catch in the third. From there, the Orioles feasted.
Their four homers marked a season high. Nunez went 421 feet for his fourth of the homestand and sixth overall, while Smith’s emergence continued with his fifth of the season. Manager Brandon Hyde called it "one of our better efforts of the year.”
“Now you’re seeing a more confident guy at the plate,” Hyde said of Davis. “We played really well in all three phases of the game.”
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.