Hernandez's Rays debut spoiled by streaking Davis
O's slugger homers again after Maddon vows to pitch around him
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon said the Rays would not pitch to Chris Davis on Thursday, after the O's slugger homered in each of their first two meetings.
Alas, the Rays did, and it led to a 6-3 loss to the Orioles at Tropicana Field.
"It's just unbelievable," Maddon said. "You throw anything up there, and he's going to hit it hard somewhere. I've never quite seen him like that."
Davis, who entered the game hitting .625 with two homers and seven RBIs, padded his totals against the vaunted Rays pitching with a two-run homer and a two-run double.
"I feel comfortable in the box," Davis said. "We've had a few runners on when I'm up at the plate, which is always fun cause if you get a hit, those guys are going to score. When you feel good at the plate, when things are going right for you, you're going to get those hits. I'm just trying to keep it rolling."
In losing the rubber game of the series, the Rays fell to 1-2 on the season heading into their three-game weekend series at Tropicana Field against the Indians.
"It's always tough anywhere in the American League East," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "This is one of the best teams we're going to play against. They're going to be around all season. This is just the start. There will be some more battles along the way."
Davis put the Orioles on top, 2-0, in the second, when he homered to right-center field off Roberto Hernandez with Adam Jones on base. He doubled in the sixth with one out and runners on first and second, giving him 11 RBIs through three games and breaking a 2-2 tie.
"Without Chris Davis, we're at 3-0 without him in their lineup," Evan Longoria said. "I've seen a lot of guys hit the ball well against us in a three-game series, that's the most locked in I've seen anybody. Other than the bloop double that he had yesterday at the end of the game, that was, I mean he hit everything on the barrel. He hit everything hard, everything. Every pitch, it didn't matter what we threw him."
When Cesar Ramos finally retired Davis on a broken-bat grounder in the eighth, the crowd of 17,491 responded with a loud ovation.
Unfortunately for the Rays, Matt Wieters followed Davis with a single, and J.J. Hardy homered to give the Orioles a comfortable 6-2 lead.
Miguel Gonzalez started for the Orioles and did not allow a hit until Longoria dribbled one back through the middle with one out in the fifth. Once Longoria recorded the first hit, others followed, and the Rays strung together four base knocks to temporarily tie the game at 2 apiece.
Yunel Escobar hit one off Gonzalez's left leg, then beat out a single. James Loney drilled another single through the middle to score Longoria, before Jose Molina hit a ball up the middle to drive home Escobar.
The Rays did not threaten again until the ninth, when they brought the potential tying run to the plate.
Brian Matusz hit Sean Rodriguez, and Ben Zobrist laced a single to right field, prompting Showalter to bring in right-hander Jim Johnson to pitch to Longoria with two on and no outs.
The Rays slugger swung at the first pitch and drove a ball to the wall, but both runners froze momentarily to make sure it was not caught. By the time the ball hit the ground, Longoria had passed Zobrist on the basepaths and was ruled out.
Rodriguez scored on the play and Zobrist pulled into third base, but the Rays were not able to get anything else going en route to their second loss of the season.
"[The Orioles] are hot right now, God bless them," Maddon said. "They're good. They're really a good ballclub. It was a really entertaining, hard-fought three games, and I'm really proud of how our guys performed. As our group comes together, the new guys get more involved and come together, we're going to see us kind of take off. I was really pleased with the three games."