Davis hits 50th homer as Orioles down Jays
TORONTO – On a night when the Blue Jays got some of their power back in the lineup, Chris Davis stole the show.
The Baltimore slugger hit his 50th home run of the season in the eighth inning Friday night to snap a 3-3 tie as the Orioles rallied with five unanswered runs to defeat Toronto 5-3.
“He’s having a great year,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “He’s so strong he hits them anywhere, it’s got nothing to do with the park here. Some guys will get some cheapies here. He doesn’t get any cheapies.
“The thing that makes him so good is he hits them everywhere. Even in that home-run hitting contest in the all-star game, he was the only guy hitting some home runs to the opposite field. He’s dangerous.
“I thought we might have had him on a checked swing earlier. And then he hits a home run. We didn’t get the call there.”
Davis flied out deep to centre in the first inning, struck out in the third and flied out to left in the sixth before slamming a pitch from reliever Steve Delabar over the centre-field fence to lead off the eighth for a 4-3 lead.
“I knew I barrelled it up,” said Davis. “I tried to go the other way there with two strikes. I’ve faced Steve a few times. You can’t look for his split, as hard as he throws. I was just trying to put a good swing on it and stay through it.”
Visiting fan Steve Houff of Ellicott City, Md., who got the home run ball from a Jays fan for US$100, exchanged it with Davis for a signed bat and ball.
Baltimore added another run in the inning when Danny Valencia singled home Adam Jones.
Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus returned to the Toronto lineup, with Encarnacion scoring and Rasmus homering. But it wasn’t enough as the Orioles (78-69) snapped a three-game losing streak, keeping their wild-card hopes alive while handing Toronto (67-80) its fourth consecutive loss.
Baltimore also evened its 2013 record against the Jays to 7-7.
It was Davis’ seventh home run against the Blue Jays this season — and his 16th since the start of the 2012 season. And it tied the Orioles’ single-season home run record by Brady Anderson in 1996.
Davis is the first player to hit 50 homers since Jose Bautista (with 54) did it in 2010.
The 27-year-old first baseman becomes the third player in major league history to hit 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a season. The only others to accomplish the feat are Babe Ruth (59 homers and 44 doubles in 1921) and Albert Belle (52 and 50 in 1995).
“It’s a humbling feeling to be in the same company with the guys I’m in,” said Davis.
Davis, who hit 33 homers last year for the Orioles, leads the majors in home runs this season.
Trailing 3-0, Baltimore sent eight men to the plate in the seventh inning to tie the game. Homers by Adam Lind and Rasmus had given Toronto the lead.
Hard-throwing Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter, coming in with men on first and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh, snuffed out the Toronto threat by striking out Moises Sierra and J.P. Arencibia.
Hunter (5-4) also took care of the eighth after giving up a leadoff single. Jim Johnson, coming on in the ninth, earned his 44th save while Delabar (5-4) suffered his second straight loss.
Baltimore outhit Toronto 10-7.
The seventh-inning Orioles rally ruined a fine performance by Jays starter Todd Redmond, making his first start in 10 days.
Redmond, who had a strikeout in each of the first six innings, gave up one run on three hits, struck out seven and did not walk a batter before giving way to Dustin McGowan with one out in the seventh. He threw 75 pitches including 50 strikes before a Rogers Centre crowd of 20,024 with the roof closed.
Gibbons said the plan was to replace Redmond if he ran into any trouble, given his recent inactivity.
“It backfired, but that was kind of the plan,” he said. “It was kind of uncharted territory for him, he’s been off a little bit. But he threw a whale of a game. We just didn’t get the outs … Sometimes winning a game, you’ve got to stop things before things develop.”
Redmond said he had more in the tank but was content to take the manager’s lead.
Bud Norris was slated to start for the Orioles but was scratched due to elbow discomfort. He gave way to Jason Hammel, who was making his first start since July 28.
Hammel went five innings, giving up three runs on three hits. He walked one, struck out two and threw 62 pitches, 39 for strikes.
After seeing Jose Reyes thrown out at third to open the bottom of the first, Hammel retired 10 in a row before walking Encarnacion in the fourth with two outs in the fourth. Lind then punished him by homering to right-centre field for his 20th home run of the season.
Encarnacion, who missed the last four games with a sore wrist, hit two deep shots just left of the left-field foul pole in earning the walk.
The blast extended Lind’s hitting streak against the Orioles to 17 games.
Rasmus, returning to the lineup after being sidelined since Aug. 11 with an oblique strain, added a leadoff homer into the Baltimore bullpen in the fifth to make it 3-0. It was his 19th of the season.
Baltimore did not get a runner past second until the seventh inning when Jones hit a leadoff double. One out later, J.J. Hardy drove him in with a double off McGowan to trim the margin to 3-1. Ryan Flaherty then walked and, one out later, Steve Clevenger doubled home Hardy and Flaherty with a ball that bounced over the head of right-fielder Sierra to tie it at 3-3.
It marked Clevenger’s first hit as an Oriole.
Follow Neil Davidson on Twitter at @neilmdavidson