BALTIMORE -- If the Baltimore Orioles are selling this year, Chris Davis would no doubt be prominently featured in the window display. But after a 7-3 victory over the Braves at Camden Yards, the O’s are looking more and more like buyers. Or at the very least, non-sellers. And for that, they have Davis to thank.
Tuesday’s win, the Orioles’ fourth straight, moved them up to two games out of the second AL wild-card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. At the center of it was Davis, the left-handed slugger and soon to be free agent, whose name has been mixed up in trade rumors as July 31 approaches. But three days before the trade deadline, he’s still wearing orange and black, much to his manager’s liking.
“Sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don’t make,” Buck Showalter said before Tuesday’s game.
Then the O’s skipper sat back and watched as Davis went out and put on a show.
In the bottom of the first inning, after Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez gave up two quick runs in the top, Davis put the Birds ahead when he parked a 91 mph fastball from Julio Teheran into the seats above right-center field. The three-run homer was Davis’ 23rd of the season and led to an unusually early chorus of “Seven Nation Army” at Camden Yards. The very next inning, with a runner on, Davis launched another Teheran heater over the fence in almost the same spot. By the time the second inning was over, the score was Davis 5, Braves 2.
As if that weren’t enough, in the eighth inning, Davis -- who has logged 361 games at first base during his time in Baltimore but has become the team’s regular right fielder over the past month -- made a running, leaping grab at the wall. That catch, combined with Davis’ offensive fireworks, led to a standing O from the O’s faithful, along with some praise from his starting pitcher.
“We really need him,” said Jimenez, who on Tuesday night rebounded from two horrific starts to retire 18 of the last 20 Braves he faced after a rocky first inning. “When Chris is on, he makes a difference in the whole lineup. He can hit anything out.”
Lately, he has. With the two bombs he jacked on Tuesday, Davis has hit five home runs in his past seven games. His 65 RBIs are tied for fourth most in the American League.
“I’ve been a little bit more selective, a little more patient,” said Davis, who is hitting .308 over that seven-game stretch, and now has three multihomer games this season and 10 for his career. “That’s been big for me.”
It’s been even bigger for his team. As recently as last Friday, the Orioles were licking their wounds after getting swept by the first-place Yankees in the Bronx, and losing 15 of their previous 20 games. The prolonged free fall had fans in Baltimore calling for the club to deal its upcoming free agents rather than just letting them walk away after the season without getting anything in return. The Orioles have seven players whose contracts expire at the end of the season, including Davis, catcher Matt Wieters and hurlers Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O’Day.
Four days and four wins later, Davis and the Birds have the look of a team that thinks it can contend -- even though they remain seven games behind New York. They sound like one, too.
“We know where we are in the standings. We have our work cut out for us,” Davis said. “But we like the guys we have in here.”
Does that mean the Orioles won’t be buying between now and Friday?
They could still use a corner outfielder. Another veteran arm wouldn’t hurt. But at this point, you can be pretty darn sure they’re not selling.