It's Chris Davis' world, and we're all just living in it.
The Orioles, behind the latest storybook heroics of their slugging first baseman, pulled out a thrilling comeback victory during their home opener, 9-5, against the Twins.
What was shaping up to be a frustrating loss full of missed scoring opportunities took a dramatic turn in the bottom of the eighth, when the O's plated five runs to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 9-5 lead. The most memorable blow was delivered by -- who else? -- the scalding-hot Davis, who crushed a tiebreaking, crowd-electrifying grand slam.
Davis' start to the 2013 season has been otherworldly. He has homered during all four games and has collected 16 RBIs -- more than the combined totals of some entire teams.
"I'm glad he's on our side," manager Buck Showalter said.
The O's were trailing entering the eighth inning, but Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth led off the inning with singles against reliever Casey Fien. After Manny Machado sacrificed them to second, the Twins elected to intentionally walk Nick Markakis to set up the righty-righty matchup with Adam Jones. Jones -- who himself had another great day at the plate -- ripped a game-tying RBI single.
The Twins brought in lefty reliever Tyler Robertson to face Davis, and on the first pitch, he swatted an opposite-field grand slam into the left-field seats. Davis' majestic blast brought the sellout crowd of 46,653 -- the 22nd consecutive home opener sellout at Camden Yards -- to its feet. Davis came out for a curtain call, causing the crowd to erupt in another ovation.
"It was awesome," Davis said of the curtain call. "It was real loud. I had chills when I was running back on the field."
Davis certainly deserved the ovation. He's playing baseball at a level few have ever seen before. Davis set a major league record for RBIs during the first four games of a season (16), eclipsing the previous mark of 12. He's the first Oriole ever to homer during his first four games of the season, and just the fourth major leaguer in history to do so.
"The contact-to-damage ratio is real good right now," Showalter said of Davis. "Chris doesn't have many bad days."
For Davis, it was just another day at the park. In fact, he said he felt a bit lucky to even hit the grand slam.
"It was actually a really good pitch," he said. "I was just looking for something on the outer part of the plate that I could hit for a sac fly."
He did much better than that, and in the process he further cemented himself in Orioles lore.
Until that eighth inning, this game didn't quite have the intensity of a home opener. Starter Jake Arrieta struggled through an inconsistent five-inning stint during which he gave up five runs.
Meanwhile, the O's frustrated fans by squandering early scoring chances. In the fourth inning, down 4-1, they loaded the bases with nobody out. One run scored on J.J. Hardy's ground ball when shortstop Eduardo Escobar tried to throw out the runner at third, but pulled Trevor Plouffe off the bag. But with the bases still loaded and nobody out, the O's failed to add on any more runs, as Ryan Flaherty struck out and Reimold and McLouth popped up.
The O's did score two runs the following inning to chase Twins starter Liam Hendriks, but stranded two runners that inning, then one in the sixth and two more in the seventh. The Birds were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position before that outstanding eighth inning.
The Birds' bullpen did a nice job, with Troy Patton, Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop combining for four scoreless innings to hold down the fort and set the stage for Davis' big blow.
In the end, the O's sent their fans home happy after an exhilarating 2013 home opener. What do the Orioles -- and Davis -- have in store next?
Posted April 5, 2013 by Paul Folkemer