When MLB games go into extra innings, those 25-man rosters aren’t always enough. Such was the case on May 6, 2012 when the Baltimore Orioles played at Fenway Park.
On this day in 2012, the Baltimore Orioles ran out of pitchers and had to turn to Chris Davis to finish the 16th and 17th. With his success in 2012, does he get to be called a raker who pitches?
This epic extra-inning game began with Tommy Hunter facing Clay Buchholz. The Orioles got the game going with a J.J. Hardy solo home run in the first, then he did it again in the third. Then, in the fourth, Robert Andino added three more to the scoreboard with a home run that scored Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds. The game looked to be the bag for the Orioles.
But, this wasn’t the case. The Red Sox quickly caught up and tied the game with an RBI single in the fourth, then a Will Middlebrooks grand slam. The score remained tied at 5 until the eighth inning when each team hit fly balls that scored one more run. The nine innings ended with the game tied at six.
Then came bonus baseball.
Extra-innings baseball is tough on any team’s lineup of pitchers. Managers have to plan for the rest of the week and cannot play with starters’ routines. So, this immediately takes a few pitchers out of the game any time. And, as always happens with tie games, managers use their set-up men and closers to try to hold the opposing team from scoring in the eighth and ninth. Such was the case with this game, as Buck Showalter used Pedro Strop in the ninth to prevent the home team from winning.
Fortunately, this time it paid off for Showalter, but not until he used three more pitchers in the 10th through 15th innings. By the time Davis entered in the 16th, Showalter used eight pitchers.
Most MLB baseball players have experience pitching in some amateur level of play. Davis’s last experiences were during his JUCO years. Fortunately, for Showalter, Davis was the DH, so he didn’t have to move a position player. Unfortunately for Davis, he was the only O’s starter who hadn’t gotten a hit in his eight at-bats that day. To make matters worse, he struck out five times!
So, he did what he could to help the team. He pitched two innings, facing eight batters total. He gave up one hit, struck out two, and ended up getting the win. He was helped by Adam Jones, who came through on a clutch three-run home run in the top of the 17th. The defensive relay with a perfect throw by Hardy to get Marlon Byrd at home helped, too.
Since that outing in 2012, Davis has pitched in one other game in 2019. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well, but it didn’t matter as much, either. In 2019, he pitched against the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards. At the time, the Twins were leading 15-7 and Davis gave up a home run to his former teammate, Jonathan Schoop who went deep to left-center
At the time in 2012, Davis became the first position player to not get a hit but get the win in an MLB game since Rube Waddell did in 1905. More surprisingly, Waddell got the win against Cy Young! Davis was also the first position player to get a win since 1968 when Rocky Colavito helped the Yankees defeat the Detroit Tigers (who won the World Series that year).