BALTIMORE – For one brief moment, the Chris Davis of years ago made an appearance at Camden Yards.
Sweet stroke, long ball, slow home-run trot. It was all there for Davis, who savored an uplifting moment in an otherwise dreary season.
Davis, who hit 15 home runs in 69 games with the Spokane Indians in 2006, hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, a blast from the past that carried Baltimore past the Seattle Mariners 2-1 Sunday in the Orioles’ final home game of the season.
A two-time major league home run champ, the 33-year-old Davis is struggling through a third straight subpar season. Making matters more difficult is that he has three years left on a $161 million contract.
Davis came in batting .174 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs and has heard more than his share of jeers from the home fans. On this occasion, however, he brought the crowd to its feet by driving a sinker from lefty Marco Gonzales (16-12) over the right-field wall for a 2-1 lead.
“It’s something that was long overdue,” Davis said. “I’ve said it over and over again: I appreciate all of our fans, the people who have supported me day in and day out. And it was cool to actually give them something to cheer for.”
Davis’ playing time has been cut on a rebuilding team, so between that and his lack of power this year, it was his first home run since Aug. 28 in Washington.
He picked a perfect time to do so.
“He’s had some tough moments, so for him to have a great moment, a really nice game-winning moment, it’s got to make him feel good,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I mean, that’s really all I care about. I want the guy to succeed.”
Before the game, Davis’ situation was addressed by first-year general manager Mike Elias, who insisted that the one-time slugger would be at spring training next year but noted, “It’s a really frustrating situation. It’s one of the many things that we stepped into and have inherited and are working on.”
The cheers came loud as he slowly rounded the bases, and reached a crescendo as he stepped on the plate.
“I know it’s not the last time I’m going to hear it,” Davis said.
Orioles left-hander John Means (11-11) allowed one run and seven hits over seven sharp innings in the penultimate start of an All-Star rookie season. He walked one and struck out four, including Domingo Santana with his final pitch.
Richard Bleier finished for his fourth save in a game that took only 2 hours, 11 minutes.
Gonzales gave up two runs and three hits over seven innings. He was 7-0 over 19 starts in his career in September and October.
“I felt like we were a little too fine on the corner,” he said of Davis’ homer. “Unfortunately, it went right into his swing path. I honestly didn’t think it was going to get out.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais said, “It’s baseball. You make one mistake and it can cost you, and that’s what happened today.”
Both teams scored in the first inning before the starting pitchers found their groove.
Shed Long opened the game with a triple and scored on a single by J.P. Crawford for Seattle, and the Orioles tied it on an RBI double by Renato Nunez.
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