The Baltimore Orioles have plenty of hot bats, and one of their best is about to come back.
Reigning home run champion Chris Davis is expected to return from paternity leave and try to continue his recent dominance of interleague play as the Orioles meet the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Tuesday night.
Davis missed Baltimore’s last two games due to the birth of his first child Sunday and could have stayed on leave for another, but it appears he’ll rejoin the team Tuesday.
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"Everything went well, great," manager Buck Showalter told the team’s official website. "I promised him before we left, I said, ‘Listen, don’t feel like you have to text me and do this and do that. I’ll leave you alone, if I don’t hear from you I’ll see you Tuesday in Milwaukee.’ He said great. Then on the plane (after Sunday’s game) I texted him, I said, ‘I lied. I’m dying to know how everything went.’"
Things didn’t go well for Davis early this season. He had two homers and 14 RBIs through May 15, limited to 27 games by a trip to the disabled list, after leading the majors last year with 53 and 138. However, he has five homers and 11 RBIs in his past eight games while batting .345.
He’s ripped apart NL pitchers since the start of 2013, hitting .458 with 12 homers and 11 doubles in 22 games. Davis was 6 for 8 with a three-homer game at Pittsburgh last week in his only interleague action this year.
That’s part of a current eight-game stretch in which Baltimore (26-23) has hit .311 with 14 homers while scoring 48 runs. J.J. Hardy is batting .485 in that span, while Adam Jones is at .389. Nelson Cruz is hitting .423 with four homers in the last seven games and Manny Machado has hit safely in nine straight.
The surging offense has often been canceled out by a starting staff which has a 7.81 ERA in the last eight games, but the Orioles rallied from a late deficit to beat Milwaukee 7-6 in 10 innings Monday. Jonathan Schoop had his first career two-homer game, Jones had a two-run triple and Hardy doubled and scored on newcomer Nick Hundley’s single in the 10th.
"It was tough, but this team will bounce back," Brewers starter Kyle Lohse said after the team’s seventh loss in 10 games. "We’ll forget about it tomorrow and come back and do what we’ve got to do. It’s always tough when you have the lead like that, but you don’t go perfect for the whole year holding leads."
Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who re-signed with the Brewers (30-22) after they traded him to Baltimore last July, blew a two-run lead in the ninth and allowed a homer for the second straight game. Rodriguez has been scored upon in four of seven appearances after beginning the season with 19 consecutive scoreless innings.
Milwaukee’s Matt Garza (2-4, 4.92 ERA) has been inconsistent all year, but he’s been better at home with a 3.55 ERA and a 29-to-nine strikeout-walk ratio. He surrendered four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss in Atlanta on Thursday, not getting a decision as he failed to strike out more than one batter for the first time since 2012.
Garza hasn’t faced the Orioles since 2010 but has beaten them more than any other team. The right-hander is 9-1 in 12 starts with a 3.03 ERA, holding longtime Baltimore outfielder Nick Markakis to 4 for 34 (.118).
The Orioles will start Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 4.08), who is coming off a subpar outing despite working into the seventh for the third time in five games. He allowed five runs and eight hits in an 8-7, 13-inning loss to Cleveland on Thursday, marking the first time in five starts he’s surrendered more than two earned runs.
Chen has never faced the Brewers, who also have some hot hitters. Khris Davis had four hits Monday with his third homer in seven games, while Jean Segura had his fourth multihit effort in five days.