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Rays notes: Pitchers unable to solve Orioles’ Davis

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Published:   |   Updated: April 8, 2013 at 06:45 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

After watching Baltimore Orioles 1B Chris Davis crush his pitching staff Wednesday night, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said he wouldn’t pitch to Davis during Thursday’s series finale. Maddon said the Rays' pitchers would roll the ball to home plate.

Well, RHP Roberto Hernandez didn’t roll the ball to Davis, and Davis continued to hit, driving in four runs with a two-run homer and a two-run double against Hernandez in the Orioles’ 6-3 victory.

“He was just too much all series long,” RF Ben Zobrist said. “Any pitch that was in his zone he took it and deposited it. We were out in the outfield just kind of shaking our heads, like this is unbelievable. This guy is ridiculous right now.”

Davis was 7-for-11 with three home runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs. He became the second player in Baltimore history to homer in the first three games of the season, joining Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who did it in 1966. He is also the first player in MLB history since records are available in 1916 to have three or more RBIs in the first three games to start the season.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys hit the ball well against us in three-game series, that’s the most locked in I’ve ever seen anybody,” 3B Evan Longoria said. “Other than the bloop double that he had (Wednesday) at the end of the game he hit everything on the barrel, everything hard, every pitch. It didn’t matter what we threw him.”

Maddon has found some creative ways to avoid hot hitters. Walking Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded was one of them. But Maddon said he never considered doing anything like that with Davis during the series.

“Not yet,” Maddon said. “This guy’s history doesn’t merit that kind of respect yet. But if he keeps this up, then heck yeah.”

Hernandez hit Davis with a pitch in the fourth inning but said that was a slider that got away.

Streak-busting Hernandez The 32-year-old Hernandez ended a couple streaks Thursday when he delivered the first pitch of the game.

Hernandez became the first pitcher older than the age of 31 to start a game for the Rays in 1,060 games. Mark Hendrickson, also 32, was the last on June 25, 2006. Hernandez also became the first free agent pitcher in 1,207 games to start for the Rays. Hideo Nomo was the last on July 15, 2005.

Hernandez allowed four runs in 62/3 innings during his Rays debut.

“One guy (Davis) kind of beat us,” Maddon said. “He really pitched well to the rest of that group.”

Slow start with bats Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez had his no-hitter ended when Longoria opened the fifth with a single through the middle. That was the first of four singles back through the box that produced two runs and tied the score at 2.

“He was tougher than I’ve normally seen him,” Maddon said. “Plus his history in this building is really good, too.”

Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 15 strikeouts in three career starts at the Trop.

Duncan the catcher? The Rays were without an emergency catcher Wednesday night when Maddon pinch hit for UTL Sean Rodriguez, INF Ryan Roberts and C Jose Lobaton. Had something happened to C Jose Molina, Maddon said he would have sent DH Shelley Duncan behind the plate.

“His dad was a catcher so I was pretty much relying on that,” Maddon said.

Duncan’s dad, Dave, spent 11 seasons as a catcher in the big leagues. Duncan said he wasn’t aware of his role as the emergency, emergency, emergency catcher but said he could handle the role if pressed into service.

“I understand quite a bit about catching,” he said.

Mickey Joyce? Maddon, when talking about OF Matt Joyce’s bunt single and game-winning homer after Wednesday’s game, compared that combination to Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle and called Joyce, “Mickey Joyce.”

“That’s probably one of the best compliments a player can ever receive,” Joyce said. “Mick was my dad’s favorite player growing up. I still got to work on my right-handed hitting, but that’s a pretty cool compliment.”

Noteworthy The Rays allowed six or more runs in each game of the three-game series. They allowed six or more runs in three straight games, twice in all of 2012 …. The bullpen allowed nine runs in eight innings during the series … Zobrist is batting .455 and Longoria is hitting .417 after three games … What was Maddon going to do after losing two of the first three games of the year? “Maybe two glasses of wine tonight,” he said.

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