BALTIMORE (AP) — If one was to judge Chris Davis’ season solely by comparing his current numbers to last year’s figures, it would appear as if the Baltimore Orioles slugger is performing miserably.
That would be far from the truth. In spite of his embarrassing .189 batting average, Davis has been a significant contributor to the AL East leaders.
Davis hit his fourth career grand slam, and the Orioles got a dominating pitching performance from Miguel Gonzalez in a 9-1 victory over the skidding Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Baltimore’s fourth win in five games was marred by an injury to first baseman Steve Pearce, who left with a right abdominal strain. The severity of the injury will be determined by an MRI on Saturday morning, and the Orioles can only hope for the best after losing third baseman Manny Machado for the season earlier this month.
“I’m just hoping it’s a day or two thing,” Pearce said. “I’m not feeling any pain or anything, just discomfort.”
If Pearce is sidelined for a spell, Davis will do his best to make sure there’s no reduction in the team’s offensive output. He has 14 hits in August, seven of them home runs, and has accounted for 24 of Baltimore’s major-league leading 172 home runs.
Davis batted .286 with 53 homers and 138 RBIs in 2013. He’s tailed off considerably this year, but the Orioles wouldn’t be where they are without him.
“He’s got a chance to end up with 25-30 home runs and 80 RBIs. Who knows?” manager Buck Showalter said. “We know what he can do in bunches. I’m real proud of the way he’s continued to fight through it. A lot of people could have or would have given in, but he hasn’t.”
Delmon Young also homered for the Orioles, who built an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning against rookie Trevor May (0-4).
It was the fifth loss in six games for the Twins. Their lone bright spot was a home run by Trevor Plouffe, the 10,000th in franchise history. The Twins contributed 7,214 of those homers after the Washington Senators hit 2,786 from 1901-1960.
“It would have been better in a victory, obviously, but for me it’s a cool thing,” Plouffe said. “I was at the right place at the right time. The one man largely responsible for most of those, Harmon Killebrew, he was a great man. He was great to me when he was around, and I think this is more like his thing than mine.”
Gonzalez (7-7) allowed one run and four hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking one. With the exception of Plouffe, he permitted only one runner to get past first base.
Making his fifth career start, May retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before losing control in the fourth inning. The right-hander gave up a single and hit two batters with pitches before walking J.J. Hardy to force in a run. Davis then drove a 3-1 pitch into the right-field seats, the first homer allowed by May in his brief career.
“There have been games where I’ve had a rough couple of first at bats and I’ve come up late and hit a home run or had a big hit,” Davis said. “I think that’s the way you kind of have to approach it when you’re not swinging the bat the way you want to all the time.”
In the fifth, Young hit a two-run drive that glanced off the glove of left fielder Jordan Schafer into the glove of a fan in the front row of the seats.
That ended May’s night. He finished with eight strikeouts, one more than he had in his first five big league appearances combined.
Twins: The Twins ended their run of six straight games without a home run.
Orioles: Pearce’s career-high 11-game hitting streak ended. He grounded out in his only at-bat before leaving the game.
Twins: Kyle Gibson (11-10) makes his 36th career start, first against the Orioles, on Saturday night. In his last outing, the right-hander yielded five runs in 4 2-3 innings against Detroit.
Orioles: Chris Tillman (11-5) starts for Baltimore. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.06 ERA in four career starts against the Twins.
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