Bottom of the ninth, full count, runners on first and second with one out, down one run and Chris Davis caught a hanging slider and belted it over the right field wall for a dramatic, pinch hit, walk off three run home run to give the Baltimore Orioles a 6-4 win in the series opener against the visiting Chicago White Sox.
Davis, who began the game on the bench in lieu of the right handed hitting Delmon Young, gave the Orioles their first pinch-hit walkoff home run since Larry Sheets on August 24, 1988 against the Seattle Mariners.
The Orioles entered the ninth trailing 4-3, and Steve Pearce continued to have a hot bat as he led off with a single and was followed by Adam Jones, who got hit by the pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Nelson Cruz then struck out, before Davis' heroics.
It was one of those nights where the manager looks like an absolute genius. First, Manager Buck Showalter gives Davis the night off (well until he pinch hit in the ninth) because the White Sox were starting lefty Chris Sale and Davis had been struggling at the plate, so Showalter moved Pearce to first base and put Young in at DH. Young proceeds to collect three hits on the night, but Showalter decides to pinch hit for him despite the three hits and Davis delivers the game winner. There are nights when a manager can't seem to make a right move and there are others when every move he makes is the right one.
Baltimore was trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, but rookie catcher Caleb Joseph delivered his second career, and second in as many nights, home run to pull the O's within one. Adam Jones got the Birds started with a two run home run in the first inning. All six Orioles runs came via the long ball.
It did not look promising for the Orioles in the late innings as they had squandered opportunity after opportunity with runners in scoring position earlier in the game, but despite going 2-11 with RISP, that second hit came at just the right time for the O's to pick up the win.
Wei-Yin Chen got the start for the Orioles and pitched pretty well. Coming into the game, Chen had received great run support thus far this season, but last night that was not the case. Chen was handed a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and he held a 2-1 lead until the sixth inning, but after the offense failed to score with the bases loaded and no outs, Chen proceeded to allow a home run and two doubles in the top of the sixth and his night was done. In the end, Chen tossed 5 2/3 innings, while allowing three runs on six hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.
Brad Brach (1-0) picked up the win in relief after tossing two scoreless innings.
Baltimore took over solo second place in the AL East with the victory, their third in a row, and remain 1 1/2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the division lead. The Birds look to secure a series win tonight as they send Miguel Gonzalez (4-4) to the mound for the start against White Sox starters Jose Quintana (3-7) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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