It’s safe to say the media covering the Baltimore Orioles was more concerned about Chris Davis’ home-run dry spell than the slugger himself.
After Davis hit his major league-leading 38th homer to give the Orioles a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, someone asked him how happy he was to end a 10-game, long ball drought.
“Oh, I’m so happy,” he said, quite sarcastically. “I can go home and sleep tonight. Just eat food again. I don’t have to wake up every three hours and cry.”
Davis came in with a .205 batting average since the All-Star break and was without a homer since July 14. The sixth-inning drive off Lucas Harrell (5-11) was his first extra-base hit in seven games and gave Baltimore its first lead.
“It was big because of when it happened,” Davis said.
Later, Davis acknowledged he was trying too hard and swinging at too many bad pitches.
“It’s not like I felt terrible,” he said. “I’ve been way too aggressive on balls out of the zone. ... That was my goal today, just to be a little more patient. It obviously paid off.”
J.J. Hardy hit a two-run single in the fourth inning to start Baltimore’s comeback from a three-run deficit. The Orioles got only three hits in winning for the second time in seven games.
Wei-Yin Chen (6-3) allowed three runs, seven hits and a walk in 7 1-3 innings for his fourth straight win. The left-hander had a season-high nine strikeouts and threw a career-high 119 pitches.
“To be honest with you, I’m a little tired right now,” he said through an interpreter. “This was the first time I threw that many in the US, but I definitely felt really strong and really good.”
Darren O’Day got two outs in the eighth and Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth for his 36th save.
Jonathan Villar stole home and Robbie Grossman had a career-high three hits for the Astros, who are 2-9 since the break.
Bud Norris was scratched as Houston’s starting pitcher amid rumours he would be dealt before the non-waiver trade deadline of Wednesday at 4 p.m.
“You have a guy that has attracted a lot of interest from other ballclubs,” manager Bo Porter said before the game. “It just made more sense to not risk injury at this juncture of the conversation.”
Making his first start since July 5, Harrell gave up only two hits but issued five walks — three of which turned into runs.
In his defence, he found out he was starting early in the afternoon.
“I felt like I made a lot of really close misses, pitching in and out to guys,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where even when guys are on base you’ve got to keep attacking. I nibbled a little bit, I didn’t want to give up the runs. (But) you can’t be walking guys like that. Any time a guy like me walks guys, because I don’t strike out a lot, it’s going to be a long night.”
Chen retired the first seven batters he faced before running into trouble in the third. Three straight singles loaded the bases for Jose Altuve, who bounced a two-run single to left. With the bases full and two outs, Chen went to the stretch with his back toward Villar, who danced halfway down the baseline before breaking for home. He made it easily for a 3-0 lead.
“For me it was easy,” Villar said. “Because sometimes when the pitcher doesn’t look at me, that’s easy for me.”
Chen said, “That was embarrassing and that’s a lesson I need to learn. I looked down and I had no clue he was going to home.”
Baltimore got two runs back in the fourth. After Harrell walked the bases loaded, Hardy got the Orioles’ first hit, a single up the middle.
After Nick Markakis drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, Davis hit an opposite-field drive to left.
“I got the ball down, and he hit the ball out,” Harrell said. “It was just one of those things where I made a good pitch, and tip your hat to him. He is what he is because of who he is. He hits the ball like that a lot.”