It wasn’t pretty, but in many ways, Chris Davis had the most remarkable day on a baseball field that I can ever remember.
Starting at DH for the Orioles, Davis fanned in his first five at-bats, hit into a double play in his sixth and grounded out in his seventh before moving to the mound to pitch scoreless 16th and 17th innings and picking up a win in a 9-6 game against the Red Sox.
Davis very nearly took the loss in the 16th, but Marlon Byrd was gunned down at home plate on Mike Aviles’ double with two outs. The Red Sox then turned to a position player of their own in the 17th, and Darnell McDonald surrendered a three-run homer to Adam Jones, giving the Orioles a 9-6 lead.
After Jones’ homer, Davis grounded out, making him 0-for-8 on the day.
The bottom of the 17th started with an infield single off Davis’ glove and a Dustin Pedroia walk, but Adrian Gonzalez struck out on three pitches to put a cap on his own 0-for-8 day and McDonald grounded into a double play to end it.
Davis became the first position player to win a game since Philadelphia’s Wilson Valdez got a victory in the 19th inning of a game last May 25. Before that, the last to do it was Rockies catcher Brent Mayne in 2000.
Davis started his outing showing a 90-91 mph fastball, but he quickly faded into the mid-80s in the 17th. Of course, it still worked out for him. McDonald was sitting in the 81-83 mph range in his inning of work.
Despite having three opportunities, Davis managed to avoid picking up his sixth strikeout. He could have been just the eighth player to reach that mark (dating back to 1918) and the first since Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins in 2004.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.