Results tagged ‘ Blake Davis ’
Saturday’s 8-4 Tides win over the Pawtucket Red Sox was the kind of game the Norfolk Tides would typically lose, especially over the past few seasons. The Tides jumped on Pawtucket starter Justin Germano for four runs in the first inning, capped by Ronnie Paulino’s two-run double to the right-center field wall. They added two more runs in the third on newcomer Brandon Waring’s first AAA home run, a two-run fly just into the left-field picnic area.
(As an aside, I first saw Justin Germano on his way up in 2002, pitching for Fort Wayne in the Midwest League at Kane County. The Kane County starting pitcher was Dontrelle Willis. I next saw Germano start in 2006, my first year of datacasting, when he started for the Louisville Bats. Germano has made 113 starts in AAA and has a 43-35 career AAA record.)
Back to the present. Pawtucket began a comeback, stringing four singles to produce two runs in the fifth inning. They closed the gap to 6-3 with run in the seventh. Jose Iglesias led off the eighth with a well-executed bunt single. Kevin Youkilis, down on a rehabilitation assignment, hit a ground ball to shortstop, a nearly tailor-made double-play ball, that rolled through Blake Davis’ legs for an error, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Those of us familiar with the Tides knew what was coming next — a big inning, leading to a Pawtucket lead or (worse for us) a tie game with several extra innings on tap.
But no. Lars Anderson hit a ground ball just to the right of second base, and Carlos Rojas fielded it cleanly and flipped it to Davis covering second base. Davis touched the bag with his foot and threw the ball to Joe Mahoney, doubling up Anderson. Although Iglesias scored the Red Sox’ fourth run on the play, the rally had fizzled and the momentum shift stopped.
And in the bottom of the eighth, Lady Luck smiled on the Tides. With two out, Lew Ford blooped a Texas Leaguer in front of the Pawtucket right fielder. Blake Davis smacked a low, hard line drive inches inside the third-base foul line for a double. And with runners on second and third, Jamie Hoffman placed a soft fly ball just far enough into right field so that the first baseman couldn’t catch it, just close enough to the foul line so that the second baseman couldn’t catch it, and just shallow enough into the outfield that the right fielder couldn’t catch it. Two runs scored and the game was clinched.
While Friday’s game was a planned bullpen game for the Tides, Saturday turned into an unplanned bullpen game. Starting pitcher Steve Johnson left the game after two innings with a strained groin, and four Tides relievers nursed the game to its conclusion. No Tides pitcher deserved the win; the official scorer awarded the win to Pat Neshek, who faced only five batters and allowed an inherited runner to score. Not that there were any better options.
While Ryan Adams will get recognition for his game-winning, ninth-inning hit in Sunday’s 4-3 Tides win, and Charlotte’s Anthony Carter will get blamed for his wildness (a hit batsman and two walks), Blake Davis’ sacrifice bunt will get overlooked. As it turned out, his bunt had absolutely no impact on the result — the subsequent walks made it irrelevant — but it was an admirably executed sacrifice and one that deserves more recognition.
Historian Bill James has established that the commonly-held idea that the batter, in executing a sacrifice bunt, should “give himself up” to advance the runner is nonsense. No batter should ever go to the plate intending to make an out (except in odd circumstances involving bad weather.) Instead, the bunter should attempt to place the bunt where he can beat it out, but minimizing the risk of popping the bunt up or missing the pitch. So, if he doesn’t beat it out, he at least successfully advances the runners.
Blake Davis executed that perfectly. Charlotte first baseman Dan Johnson was holding Scott Beerer on first base, and second baseman Tyler Kuhn was cheating toward first base. Davis bunted the ball far off the first-base line and past the pitcher’s mound, where there was no fielder stationed. And I must give credit to Dan Johnson. He reacted quickly, fielded the ball, and threw to Tyler Kuhn to retire Davis. And Scott Beerer advanced to second base.
One of the dumbest scoring rules in baseball, one that should be repealed immediately, is the one that says that a sacrifice bunt should not be credited if the batter is trying to bunt for a hit. Blake Davis tried to place the bunt in a way that maximized his ability to reach base safely while ensuring that the runner reached second. Because of Dan Johnson’s skill, and because Davis’ bunt wasn’t quite good enough, he was put out — but he still deserves credit for his effort.
Over the past few days, the Orioles have made many player assignments. Late Thursday, March 15, the Orioles optioned Joe Mahoney, the first baseman, to Norfolk. Again, players on the team’s 40-man roster are optioned while players not on the 40-man roster are reassigned to minor-league camp. And, again, while Mahoney’s option to Norfolk doesn’t guarantee that he’ll start the season at Norfolk, it seems more likely than not that he’ll do so. Mahoney’s played well at AA and there’s no other first basemen who also should be at Norfolk.
The list of players reassigned to minor-league camp include a number of players who will likely start the season at Frederick or Delmarva, but who were invited to major-league camp either for the experience or to provide some more arms and legs during the early days of spring training. Three 2011 Tides, however were assigned to minor-league camp. Blake Davis will almost certainly start the season with Norfolk. The Tides don’t have an abundance of middle infielders and Davis has played fairly well at AAA over the last couple of seasons. The destinations of infielder Carlos Rojas and relief pitcher Cole McCurry are uncertain. Rojas is nothing more than roster-filler. He’ll be assigned to Frederick, Bowie, or Norfolk, depending on where there’s a hole. McCurry has done enough to justify an assignment to Norfolk, but it will depend on what other pitchers get assigned to Norfolk.
Is he a potential major league regular?
No. Davis is an adequate fielder and a left-handed hitter who can hit .250 with marginal other offensive contributions. That might make him a reasonable desperation option at second or short, but you shouldn’t project him as a regular.
How about a bench player?
I’d love to have Blake Davis on my team as a backup infielder. He’s an adequate fielder in the middle infield — but he’s the consistent type of adequate, making all the routine plays without having good range. He’s a left-handed batter who can hit .250, so he’s not a complete waste if you had to send him up as a pinch-hitter. His arm is a little short for third base, but he can play there in an emergency; and he can even play corner outfield if he had to.
If it came down to Blake Davis vs. Robert Andino, who would you choose as your backup infielder?
I know Andino had a “good” year filling in for Brian Roberts, but I’d still rather have Davis. I think Andino is much more likely to have a terrible year at the plate and to cost you games in the field.
Does he have a major league future?
Probably not. Davis, a college teammate of Justin Turner, was drafted as a shortstop and played nowhere but shortstop from 2006-2009. He was on the verge of being a marginal prospect after the 2008 season (age 24, AA) but got injured and missed the first half of the 2009 season. With Robert Andino the Norfolk shortstop in 2010, Davis — now age 26 — began the transition to utility player.
Davis has only one positive — he bats left-handed. Offensively, he doesn’t get on base or hit with power. On defense, he just seems marginal — marginal range, marginal arm, marginal position-specific skills. He has no shot at becoming a regular, and I can’t see a team using a roster spot for a bench player who doesn’t hit at all and doesn’t field real well.