Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis made history on Monday, yet not for something he’s fundamentally excited about. A lineout to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning was Davis’ 47th consecutive at-bat without a hit, breaking the MLB record for the longest streak by a position player.
Davis got two additional chances to break the streak, yet struck out in the seventh and eighth innings to complete the game on a 0-for-49 skid.
Davis entered Monday’s home game against the Oakland Athletics requiring only three hitless at-bats to break Eugenio Velez’s record of 46, which the previous San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers infielder had amid the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Davis lined out in his first two at-bats, tying Velez’s imprint in the third inning.
With the bases empty and nobody on in the fifth inning, Davis lined out for the third time in the game, pushing his fair hit dry season to a historic 47 at-bats.
“He hit three balls on the nose and the first three at bats were really good, so I’m taking that as a positive,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said after the game. “To go through what he’s going through and still play the defense he’s playing and still to have the attitude that he has, it speaks really highly of his character…I was hoping one of those balls would fall.”
Davis’ hitless streak dates back to Sept. 14, 2018 – when he associated for a double against the Chicago White Sox. From that point forward, he has struck out multiple times and recorded six walks.
“Everyone in here is pulling for [Davis]. That guy used to be one of the most feared hitters in baseball,” teammate Andrew Cashner said after the game. “It doesn’t just affect him, it affects us…We want to see him do well.”
In spite of the string of futility, an off-day on Monday was not feasible for Davis.
“I talked to Chris after the game yesterday – he really wanted to play today,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said before the game. “Chris has had a lot of at-bats against (A’s starter Marco) Estrada. I put a lot of thought into it and Chris is in there.”
To make matters worse for Davis, the baffling begin comes after a lamentable 2018 campaign, when he posted a .168 batting average with 16 home runs and 192 strikeouts.
Playing in his eighth full season in Baltimore, the veteran was forced to bear boos at the Orioles’ home opener following every one of his three strikeouts. Thus, his manager just as certain fans have gone to his defense.
“I feel bad for him,” Orioles fan Michael Husni told USA TODAY Sports. “I think all of Baltimore knows he’s a really quality guy …I feel bad for him because I know he wants to get out there [and hit] and everybody’s riding him.”
“You want a fan base that cares. Fans are welcome to handle situations the way they want to. I don’t like to hear [boos],” Hyde said on Monday.
Davis, 33, drove the majors twice in home runs– in 2013 with 53 and 2015 with 47 – yet the maturing bend in the long run hits each player. He is signed through 2022, seeing out a seven-year, $161 million extension he signed in 2016.