ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If baseball is a game where failure is routine, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis showed otherwise in this week’s season-opening series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Davis drove in four runs in Baltimore’s 6-3 win Friday, including a two-run homer in the second inning, his third homer in the season’s first three games.
He also slapped an opposite-field, two-run double to left-center against a pull shift to break open a tied game in the sixth inning.
Davis has 11 RBI through three games this year — he didn’t reach the 11-RBI mark until the 21st game of the season in 2012 — and became the second player in Orioles history to homer in each of the season’s first three games. Frank Robinson did it in his triple crown American League MVP season of 1966.
The last major league player to record at least 11 RBI in the first three games of the season was Phillies first baseman Dolph Camilli, who had 12 RBI in the first three games of 1935, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Davis, who took a 2-2 change-up from Rays starter Roberto Hernandez over the right-center field fence in the second inning, has hit 10 homers in his past 10 regular season games dating back to last season.
Baltimore got some bad news in the ninth inning, however. Second baseman Brian Roberts, who had been limited to 115 games over the past three seasons, was injured sliding into second base on a steal in the top of the ninth. He came off the bag holding his right leg and was helped off the field by head trainer Richie Bancells and first base coach Wayne Kirby.
After the game, Roberts said he felt a pop in back of his right knee and he’s scheduled to have an MRI exam on Friday.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez held Tampa Bay hitless through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. A leadoff single by Evan Longoria, the Rays’ first hit, was followed by an infield single up the middle by Yunel Escobar that hit off Gonzalez.
Gonzalez allowed back-to-back, up-the-middle singles by James Loney and Jose Molina that tied the score at 2-2 before he was aided by a nice 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Gonzalez finished with a quality start, allowing two runs on five hits over 61 / 3 innings, striking out four and walking two. In 192 / 3 career innings at Tropicana Field, Gonzalez has pitched to a 0.92 ERA, allowing just two earned runs.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy gave the Orioles some insurance in the eighth inning with a two-run homer off Cesar Ramos.
By the end of day, the Rays’ fans had seen enough of Davis, who finished the series 7-for-11 with three doubles, three homers and 11 RBI. When Davis broke his bat in his final at-bat, the crowd of 17,491 cheered loudly, and it grew louder when Davis finished the at-bat with a ground out to the pitcher.
The game ended in bizarre fashion when a Rays’ ninth-inning rally was quelled by controversy. With two on and no outs, Evan Longoria laced a ball into the left-center field gap off closer Jim Johnson that center fielder Adam Jones couldn’t come up with while crashing against the wall.
While one run scored, Longoria was called out for passing Ben Zobrist on the basepaths. Zobrist was in between first and second waiting to see if Jones would make the play while Longoria rounded first.
After that, Johnson induced a popup from Shelley Duncan for the second out of the ninth and, two batters later, he got James Loney to pop up to third to end the game.