When things are going right in baseball, they’re really going right.
A team’s first baseman/designated hitter can pitch — and turn out to be the winning pitcher in extra innings. And a team can complete a sweep for the best record in baseball.
Such is life for the Baltimore Orioles right now.
Chris Davis hadn’t pitched since his junior-college days in Corsicana, Texas, six years ago, but he was pressed into duty just over 5 hours into the Orioles’ series finale in Boston. He threw two shutout innings and Baltimore won 9-6 in 17 innings, the second-longest game in team history.
“I'm like, sweet,” Davis said of being given the chance to pitch after eight relievers had given up one run over seven innings. “I get to try something different today because hitting ain't working.”
If you can’t beat ’em with your bat, beat ’em with your arm and get a nice page in the history books. Davis became the first player in 107 years to go hitless in eight at-bats and earn a win, a win that gave Baltimore their first sweep in Fenway Park in 18 years. He is the first American League position player to win a game since Rocky Colavito of the Yankees in 1968. And, with outfielder Darnell McDonald pitching for the Red Sox, the game was the first since Oct. 4, 1925, to feature two position players pitching. (According to STATS LLC, the pitchers in that game were Ty Cobb of Detroit and George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns.)
The Orioles left Boston with their fifth straight win for a 19-9 record, best in baseball. It’s just the sixth time in 59 seasons in Baltimore, that they’ve won 19 or more of their first 28 games. Now, 2012 goes into the books next to 1969, 1970, 1992, 1997 and 2005. Are these Orioles for real? They’ll let us know when they open a nine-game homestand tonight against the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees.
“It was bizarre. It was fun, it was awesome, it was exhausting, it was exhilarating,” said center fielder Adam Jones, who hit a three-run homer in the 17th. “That was awesome, top to bottom, six hours. Started off right, it ended right, a lot of stuff in between. It's just a big, big win and it put everybody to an emotional test. We could have easily just folded, but we wanted it every inning.”
Are the Orioles on the verge of something special? There does seem to be something magical going on, Peter Schmuck says. Buck Showalter turned around the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers in his second season, so why not the Orioles?
“Could something like that happen after 14 consecutive losing seasons in Baltimore?” Schmuck writes. “Who knows, but something strange and wonderful happened at Fenway Park on Sunday, so why not?”