Baltimore Orioles vs Oakland Athletics: 5 players to watch

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Chris Davis, 1B

You can’t blame Chris Davis for being frustrated. The first baseman has authored some of the most impressive power seasons in Baltimore Orioles history, but he’s slashing just .184/.286/.265 this year, even worse than the team line of .224/.292/.370.

Given those maddening results, it’s not surprising that Davis was encouraged by the Birds’ clutch hitting on Wednesday, when they torched the Angels for five runs in a ninth-inning rally. The former Silver Slugger contributed with an RBI single, and if his postgame comments are to be believed, we might see him start to take a different approach at the plate. Per Edaurdo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun:

"“But just going up there, I felt like we kind of singled them to death in that last inning,” Davis said. “That has to be our approach day in and day out. We’ve relied on the home run in the past way too often and we’ve done it for way too long. At some point, there has to be an adjustment where we realize we are more than that kind of offense. I’m encouraged, but we’ve got to try to find a way to get them on the board earlier so some of these translate into wins.”"

That might sound farfetched for a player who has built his reputation on hitting balls out of the park — Davis paced the AL in home runs in both 2013 and 2015, and his career total is a gaudy 269. But on Thursday night, the Texan came through with a single and a walk, raising all three of his slash stats in the process. It will take a much larger sample size to determine the statistical relevance of Davis’ new mentality, but so far, the “adjustment” has paid dividends, at least through one game.

Buck Showalter hasn’t allowed Davis to face many southpaws of late, but the Athletics are rolling with three righties this weekend. It’s time for the Birds’ $161 million man to start producing.