Chris Davis Bashes 50th Home Run In Orioles Win
No matter how the season turns out for the Orioles as a team, 2013 will be known as the Year of Chris Davis.
Davis cemented his name in the Orioles' record books Sept. 13 in Toronto by hitting his 50th home run of the season, tying Brady Anderson (1996) for the club's all-time record.
Davis picked a timely opportunity for his historic blast, launching an opposite-field leadoff homer in the eighth off Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar to break a 3-3 tie. The Birds held on from there for a much-needed 5-3 win, snapping their three-game losing streak.
Davis, coincidentally, hit his 50th homer in the same ballpark Anderson did 17 years ago, even if the name has changed (it's now Rogers Centre instead of Skydome). Anderson, though, didn't get his 50th homer until the last game of the regular season, which was the Birds' 163rd of that year. Davis, meanwhile, still has 15 games left to play this year, and seems a near certainty to surpass Anderson and move into sole possession of the Orioles' single-season home run record.
Davis reached not only an Orioles milestone, but a major league milestone as well. With his 50 home runs and 40 doubles, Davis is only the third player in big league history to accomplish that feat, joining Babe Ruth (1921) and Albert Belle (1995).
It's hard to imagine where the Orioles would be right now without the breakout season of the slugging Davis. The Orioles' first baseman has put on a show for fans literally since day one, homering during his first four games of the 2013 season and rocketing into superstardom from there. If not for the otherworldly season Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera has had, Davis would be a shoo-in for American League Most Valuable Player. Davis' prolific offensive production has been a major catalyst in keeping the Birds afloat in the playoff race with two weeks left to play.
Davis' heroics capped off a feel-good O's win Sept. 13, one during which they came back in the late innings after being left for dead early. Through six innings, the Orioles were utterly shut down by Blue Jays right-hander Todd Redmond, a pitcher whom the O's cut during spring training. The Birds were playing like a deflated team that was still shell-shocked from the events of the Sept. 9-12 Yankees series, falling into a 3-0 hole on a pair of Blue Jays homers off emergency starter Jason Hammel.
The Orioles, though, stepped up late during the game, thanks to one particularly unlikely source. With two on and two out in the seventh during a 3-1 game -- after a J.J. Hardy RBI double earlier in the inning snapped the shutout -- up came catcher Steve Clevenger, who was making his Orioles debut. Clevenger delivered possibly the biggest hit of his career, roping a two-run double, which tied the game at three.
It was a great story to see Clevenger -- a Baltimore native -- come through with the clutch hit during his first game with his hometown club. With the Orioles having jettisoned Taylor Teagarden earlier in September, the Birds' backup catcher spot for next year is currently open. Clevenger might get a chance to play his way into that job.
An inning later, Davis' home run and an RBI single by the red-hot Danny Valencia (who was the starting designated hitter even against a righty) put the O's on top for the first time.
The Birds' bullpen did a nice job of shutting down the Jays for four innings after Hammel went five. I'm sure many Orioles fans weren't pleased to see much-maligned closer Jim Johnson come in for the ninth during a two-run game, but he got through it. Despite allowing a leadoff single, Johnson snagged a Brett Lawrie liner for a double play and struck out Colby Rasmus to end it.
The Orioles didn't gain any ground on Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot, remaining 2.5 back after the Rays' win in Minnesota. Still, Sept. 13 was a night to remember for Davis and the Orioles.
Posted Sept. 13, 2013 by Paul Folkemer