BOSTON -- Since Chris Davis signed a club-record seven-year, $161 million deal this past offseason, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has continually praised the way the first baseman has carried himself.On Monday, Davis showcased another valuable quality: the ability to carry his team. The slugger drove in five runs, including three
BOSTON -- Since Chris Davis signed a club-record seven-year, $161 million deal this past offseason, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has continually praised the way the first baseman has carried himself.
On Monday, Davis showcased another valuable quality: the ability to carry his team. The slugger drove in five runs, including three on a mammoth homer in the ninth inning that broke a tie and proved to be the difference-maker in the O's 9-7 win over the Red Sox. Not only did the O's spoil Boston's home opener, they remain the only undefeated team (6-0) in Major League Baseball and are off to the best start to a season since the franchise moved to Baltimore.
"I think it helped that Manny [Machado] saw four pitches," Davis said of facing new Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. "It kind of gave me a little time to get a look at him on deck. Obviously, we haven't seen a lot of him, being in the National League. I think I faced him maybe once before that when he was with Atlanta, but that was a few years ago. So in that situation right there, I'm just not trying to do too much. I'm trying to see the ball and put a good swing on it. I know we didn't necessarily need a three-run home run, but we'll take it."
Davis' homer had an exit velocity of 111 mph and traveled a projected 426 feet, according to Statcast™. The 0-1 pitch from Kimbrel was a 97-mph fastball that Davis sent flying into the center-field batter's eye.
"I know Chris is watching it on deck, it's a huge blow," said outfielder Mark Trumbo, who clubbed his own three-run homer in the third inning. "Tight ballgame, kind of back and forth, trading one run, tying it up and that's just kind of a gut punch. It definitely gave us a little bit of breathing room."
Davis' homer was his third in the past five games and raised his RBI total to seven.
"Chris had the most engaged Spring Training I've ever seen. And not where it's over the top where he's trying to do too much and show he's worthy," Showalter said. "He's been focused since the day he walked through the doors in Sarasota, and he's getting a return for it. His defense was the difference in the game today."
That Davis, who made some impressive plays at first base, had a pair of baserunners on in front of him in the ninth is a testament to some of Baltimore's improved at-bats this season.
"I think our lineup in general has really matured over the past couple of years, and you're seeing that this year, not only during the season, but in Spring Training. Guys weren't going up there hacking, trying to get a base hit. They were actually working on something," Davis said. "That says something about Scott Coolbaugh, our hitting coach. He preached that early on, and it's something the guys have bought into. It's been a positive for us."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.