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.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.