Davis breaks down homers, O's success at Fan Cave
O'Day joins slugger in New York before Orioles open series with Yankees
NEW YORK -- It was drizzly all afternoon in Manhattan on Friday, he had arrived in the middle of the night, and yet Chris Davis looked as happy as anyone in Major League Baseball.
This is what you play for, this feeling right now.
"It's a good day," Davis said.
The biggest story of the season so far was signing baseballs, touring the MLB Fan Cave with Orioles teammate Darren O'Day and taping an upcoming video.
The latest unbelievable fact amid Davis' hot start is that no other player in the live-ball era (since 1920) reached 19 RBIs in his first nine games of a season. It just goes on.
"That's important to me," Davis said, sitting on the Fan Cave couch. "I feel like that's really my role on the team, to drive in runs, and you can't do that without guys getting on base in front of you. I've been very fortunate the first few games to come up with guys on second and third.
"I mean, Adam Jones is hitting the ball as well as anybody right now. Matt Wieters, guys at the top of the lineup -- [Nick] Markakis, [Nate] McLouth, Manny [Machado] ... I mean, guys are constantly getting on base and giving me opportunities to drive them in. It's not a one-man show, by any means. It's a nine-person job every night."
Much of that production continues to come in the form of the long ball. Davis has his second homer streak going, having gone deep in the past two games at Fenway Park.
Perhaps the most impressive and most important of his six long balls was the one he hit in the ninth inning Wednesday to spark a five-run rally and beat elite closer Joel Hanrahan, a key Red Sox acquisition this winter.
A rainy day in New York was a great time to just keep talking about an offensive start to a season that no fantasy owner could have quite envisioned. Davis dissected that six-pitch at-bat against Hanrahan, who had just entered the game.
"He started me off with fastball away, and I fouled it off," Davis said, "and I kind of thought to myself, 'That might be the last fastball I see from him.' Then he threw a couple sliders, I fouled 'em off, then he went back to another fastball, elevated it out of the zone, and then just kept going with sliders.
"The last pitch I hit was a slider out over the plate, a pitch that he obviously left up. When I hit it, I didn't know if it was going out. Jacoby [Ellsbury] was running back like he was gonna rob it."
The Orioles won that one, 8-5, and followed it up by taking the series with a 3-2 victory on Thursday.
"It was a big at-bat, kind of what sparked us," Davis said. "It was a good win for us. We had just lost three in a row, so that was a big win."
Both Fan Cave visitors are starting the season on a mission and picking up where they left off in 2012. O'Day has been stalwart out of the bullpen, recording a hold Thursday and starting with five scoreless relief outings.
I asked both Orioles to review the other person's start to this season.
Davis on O'Day:
"With Darren, what you see is what you get. A guy who was very underrated for a few years, was with the Texas Rangers organization, had some success and was brought over here to Baltimore. I've had an opportunity to play with Darren for a few years now, and I get to see him pretty much on a daily basis and see what he's capable of. It hasn't surprised me a bit. He's a dominant pitcher. He's definitely a guy we want to have in the game when it comes down to the wire."
O'Day on Davis:
"I think what you get in Chris is a guy who just wakes up in the morning and hits home runs. He's probably the most handsome devil I know. I mean, look at the guy. You can't really imagine a better start for a hitter than Chris has had. I think he's just having fun and letting his talent work, and hitting weak fly balls that go over the fence. A weak fly ball to him is a home run to the rest of us. They just don't make the stadiums big enough.
"I think you're going to see Chris really turn it on and be a complete player this year. Offense, defense, he's probably gonna steal like 30 bags. When I say 30, I mean like six or seven. But that's what happens when you hit home runs all the time. It's hard to steal bags when you're in the dugout."
After the series finale at Boston, Orioles manager Buck Showalter praised his club's balance.
"I don't think our guys feel like one guy's got to do it," Showalter said, "and that's a good mentality to have."
"He's exactly right," Davis said Friday. "One of the biggest things about our team is the fact we have so many guys who can carry the load. We know it's not just about one guy, it's about all 25 guys in the clubhouse. You might have a bad night, you might be off, but we have some guys who are playing really well right now. We know it's a long season and there will be times when you go through lulls. We'll have other guys there to pick us up."
"That's the brand of baseball we play," O'Day said. "We did it last year, a lot of close games. If you don't get the job done, you pass the buck on to the next guy. We started to get back to our brand of baseball this past series, just kind of scrapping it out and doing the little things to make it so we score more runs than the other team."
Now here they are, back in the town where it ended last October. A magical run and a return to the postseason was stopped at Yankee Stadium. It's their first game back since then.
"I think this is probably the most wide-open division in baseball this year," Davis said. "That was kind of the idea coming into the season, that Toronto reloaded, Boston obviously with the new staff and some new players in there, the Yankees and ourselves, and a Tampa Bay team that nobody's really talking about, but with one of the best pitching staffs in the big leagues. I think it's anybody's division to win.
"I don't necessarily think the road runs through New York. They're obviously the defending champs, so somebody has to take their crown, but I think it's wide open this year."