Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chris Davis, 2012 Topps Orioles Team Set #BALT5

I want to write about the euphoria I felt at the conclusion of yesterday's 17-inning cavalcade of the bizarre, but I don't know if it will make any sense. If it comes across as disjointed, that's probably fitting; I turned the game on and off and on and off again throughout the afternoon and evening. I still kept tabs by watching MLB Network's whip-around coverage, figuring that they would show anything pertinent either live or on a slight delay. In the 15th, Ed called to ask if I was watching and I told him disgustedly that every time I switched over to MASN, it seemed like the Orioles were hitting into a double play. But I kept hoping, seemingly in vain, that this team that had blown a 5-0 lead and repeatedly come up empty against an army of Boston relievers, would scratch across a single run so that they could get out of town before their own excellent bullpen (add that to the list of things you never thought you'd hear) finally cracked or ran out of pitchers. A loss in such a marathon game would be disappointing, but wouldn't tarnish the team's first back-to-back series wins in New York and Boston since 1992. However, a win would bring their first three-game road sweep of the Red Sox since 1994, a return to first place in the American League East, and another reminder that the Orioles are no longer an easy 'W' on the schedule.

When it became apparent that designated hitter Chris Davis, who to that point in the game was 0-for-7 with five strikeouts and a double-play grounder, would take the mound in the bottom of the 16th, I flipped back to MASN and set down the remote. There's always a special delight in the absurd when a position player is called upon to pitch, and it's an especially rare treat in Baltimore. Only five other non-pitchers had toed the rubber in team history, and the last of those was Manny Alexander in 1996. Manny was predictably horrible, but that game had already been lost. Were the O's throwing in the towel by trotting out Davis? Not quite, as it happened.

Davis, who did some pitching in high school and also dabbled in it at junior college, looked like a natural...other than his frequently changing arm slot. He sat around 90 mph with his fastball in the 16th inning, and struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia by getting him to chase a wicked changeup. Rookie Will Middlebrooks (who hours earlier had tied the game with a fifth-inning grand slam over the Green Monster) put a charge into one, but Adam Jones tracked it down in center field for out number two. It looked like Chris' big league pitching debut would feature a 1-2-3 inning, but Wilson Betemit muffed a Marlon Byrd grounder to give the Sox a second chance. When Mike Aviles followed with a ringing double to left-center field, I was certain that Chris Davis would unjustly be hung with a loss. But Adam Jones fired off a strong throw to cutoff man J. J. Hardy, and Hardy's relay throw beat Byrd to the plate. The runner collided with Matt Wieters, who hung on and casually showed the ball to Byrd and the umpire with a sly grin. There would be a 17th inning.

Not wanting to be left out, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called upon a position player of his own to pitch the 17th: outfielder Darnell McDonald, who was of course the Orioles' first-round draft pick in 1997. McDonald had pinch run for designated hitter David Ortiz in the eighth inning, meaning that both teams forfeited their DH without making a substitution. McDonald actually pitched an inning for Boston last season, giving up a pair of runs on two walks and a hit in one inning. Let's just say that he's not nearly the pitcher that Chris Davis is. Topping out at 83 mph, Darnell walked Wilson Betemit to lead off. With Hardy (4-for-7 with two homers at that point) at bat, Betemit inexplicably tried to steal second base and was out by a mile. Hardy doubled to left, Markakis walked on four pitches, and then Adam Jones launched a batting practice-caliber fastball over the Monster. It started to sink in: Chris Davis was in line for the win. First he grounded out to second base, leaving him at 0-for-8 on the day.

Davis flirted with disaster in his second inning of work, as he couldn't field a line drive comebacker from Ryan Sweeney and walked Dustin Pedroia on five pitches. That brought powerful first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the plate as the potential tying run with nobody out. Incredibly, Chris struck out Gonzalez on three pitches, saddling Boston's cleanup hitter with an 0-for-8 of his own. Now he faced his counterpart, Darnell McDonald. Capping his rough inning, Darnell grounded the second pitch he saw to Hardy, who started the game-ending double play. That's five straight wins for the Orioles, and we just won't mention what happened with the Rangers tonight.

So, to sum up: Chris Davis pitched two scoreless innings to become:

1. The first position player to earn a win in an American League game since Rocky Colavito in 1968.
2. The first position player to start at another position and earn a win since Babe Ruth in 1925.
3. The first pitcher to earn a win while going 0-for-8 at bat since Rube Waddell in 1905.

Sometimes baseball is just too much fun.


jacobmrley said...

I have said it before and I will say it again....

Chris Davis!!!

Anonymous said...

My wife & I were like you; once the position players came in to pitch, we said "OK, we need to watch this..."

It's interesting that Topps photoshopped Chris Davis' card to get the cartoon bird logo on it. I guess the whole team set is like this? The joke's on them; they used the "old school" white panel (like Wieters has on his catching helmet), but the O's helmets have a white panel that mimics the one on the caps. To be honest, I prefer the one that Topps was trying to replicate.

Commishbob said...

1) The 'sly grin' screen cap is very funny.

2) When Benemit tried to steal that base I tried to imagine Earl Weaver's reaction. Yikes.

Randy said...

I live in Buffalo, NY, and thus watch the Os on MLBTV. All MLBTV games are blackout when they are on at the same time as the Fox or ESPN national telecasts on Saturday and Sunday. So, as soon as the top of the 17th is completed, the screen went to the game selection menu because it was 7:30 and ESPNs coverage was beginning. I was watching the game on delay, since I made dinner and went for a walk with my wife. So when the the game selection menu popped up at 7:30 pm(actually about 9:00 pm real time), it showed for the Os/Sox game "FINAL/17", but not the score, since I selected to filter the scores on the menu (no sense watching a game if you know the outcome). But for some reason, MLBTV shows how many innings the extra-innings games went. So, now it is 9:00 pm, I know the game ended after 17 innings and I do not know if the Os won or lost, but I promised my wife we'd watch a movie after the game was over. So we watch "The War" with Kevin Costner and a young Elijah Wood, and so after the movie at about 11:15 pm. So I go back to MLBTV, but I can't what the bottom of the 17th, it is not available. So I select the condensed game and fast forward to the bottom of the 17th to see the Sox get two on, Daivs strike out AGonz and then the 6-4-3 game-ending double play. What a day! I started watching the game at 1:30 pm, paused it to dine and excercise, watch a movie, and then get to see the last half-inning after 11:00 pm. Until a little after midnight I kept watching more and more of the higlights that MLBTV provided, including Bobby Vs press conference; it was the first time I ever saw him having virtually nothing to say, he looked exhausted.

Kevin said...

Max - How often exactly do you say 'Chris Davis'? Does your family worry about that?

shlabotnik - Yes, the whole team set is like this. Obviously the players pictured in road uniforms (with photoshopped black hats) look a bit better.

Bob - The O's are the only team below 50% in base stealing (8 SB, 9 CS). Earl may have given them all a red light until further notice.

Randy - Now that's dedication!