It’s official: Chris Davis is the hottest hitter on the planet right now.
Davis’ early season rampage continued in the Orioles’ home opener this afternoon, as he delivered a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the club to a 9-5 comeback win over the Twins.
The opposite-field blast capped a five-run rally. The table was set when Twins manager Ron Gardenhire elected to walk Nick Markakis intentionally to load the bases. After Adam Jones delivered a game-tying single, Gardenhire took out Casey Fien and brought in Tyler Robertson to face Davis. It backfired in a big way.
Davis went 2-for-5 with five RBI on the afternoon and is now hitting .600 (9-for-15) with four home runs and 16 RBI over the first four games this season. His OPS is sitting at 2.211. He’s just the fourth player ever to homer in the first four games of a season, joining Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998) and Nelson Cruz (2011).
Davis actually has 11 home runs over his last 11 regular season games dating back to last season. He was homerless in six games during the team’s postseason run.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.
Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.
At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.
However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.
Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.