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.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.