BALTIMORE – Earlier Monday, Chris Davis insisted that he had forgotten about his wonderful 53 home run season. Davis had been benched, amid his horrid 6-for-55 slump
He watched and waited all game, and finally he had his chance. With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, manager Buck Showalter sent Davis up to pinch hit for Delmon Young against Ronald Belisario, and on a 3-2 count, Davis sent the ball into the right field stands, and suddenly the struggles were forgotten.
The Orioles’ 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox before 17,931 at Oriole Park could have been one of the worst losses of the season. Instead, it was one of the biggest wins.
“Mentally, I’ve been in the same place all year. It’s frustrating to struggle, but nobody’s going to feel sorry for you. You go up there and get your work on and trust the results are going to be there,” Davis said.
In the bottom of the ninth, Steve Pearce led off with a single. Belisario (3-4) hit Adam Jones with a pitch, and after Nelson Cruz struck out, Davis launched his 13th home run of the year, and the Orioles (40-35) were suddenly five games over .500 for the first time since May 11.
“It’s good. Any time you’re able to deliver and come through for your team, it’s big. Like I said earlier today, I’m working as hard as I can to get back on track, doing everything I can and just knowing that as long as I continue to work, the results would be there,” Davis said.
Brad Brach (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Against two-time All-Star Chris Sale, the Orioles were continually stymied. Sale had pitched brilliantly, allowing no more than eight hits in any of his previous 11 starts. He allowed two runs on 11 in six, and the Orioles were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position against him.
"It's tough because we feel like we had a lot of opportunities. We just couldn't cash them in,” Showalter said.
“The feel on the bench was there was no panic. I think internally you're sitting there saying, 'Man, we felt like we were in control getting Sale early on,' and then we had some missed opportunities there a few innings. That's when you know, 'Oh man, we really missed out on our opportunities,’” Caleb Joseph said.
Showalter said Davis began preparing to hit in the fifth inning. His game-winning pinch hit home run was the second of his career. According to the Orioles, it was their first game-winning, pinch hit homer since Aug. 24, 1988 when Larry Sheets hit one.
Davis wasn’t certain it was gone.
“I hit it good, but I saw a couple of balls that were hit really well to center tonight that didn’t go, so I was kind of watching the right fielder to see if he was going to run out of room, and eventually he did,” Davis said.
Jones gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead when he hit his 14th home run of the year into the left field stands in the bottom of the first. It was the 151st home run of Jones’ Orioles career, tying Chris Hoiles for 10th on the team’s all-time list.
The Orioles had runners on against Sale in each of the first six innings, but only Jones’ home run scored anyone.
The fifth inning was the most disappointing of all. Cruz, Young and J.J. Hardy all singled to load the bases with none out. Machado grounded to third base when Conor Gillaspie threw to the plate for the force. Then, Schoop hit into a double play, giving the Orioles a frightening nine left on.
Wei-Yin Chen allowed a run on three hits in the first five innings, then buckled in the sixth. Jose Abreu hit a long home run to center, his 22nd. Dayan Viciedo doubled and with two outs, Gillaspie hit a sinking liner to left that Cruz nearly made a wondrous catch on. He couldn’t hold on, and it went for an RBI double, and Chicago (35-42) took a 3-2 lead.
In 5 2/3 innings, Chen allowed three runs on six hits, walking two and striking out three.
Tyler Flowers singled in the seventh off Ryan Webb and Abreu’s double scored him.
Joseph hit his second home run in as many games in the bottom of the eighth off Zach Putnam to cut the lead to 4-3.
The key to the game was Pearce getting on base, Joseph said.
“Once we got him on base, the life started coming in. And then the crowd got into it and then we're rolling after that. It was a great come-from-behind win for us,” Joseph said. “It’s about time we won one of these games.”