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.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.