BALTIMORE — Somewhere, Eugenio Velez is toasting.
Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis went 0-for-3 in his first three plate appearances in a 12-4 win over the Oakland A’s on Monday night, extending his hitless streak to 47 consecutive at-bats. In doing so, he broke Eugenio Velez’s record for the longest hitless streak by a position player in major league history, according to data from the Elias Sports Bureau.
Velez, a former utility man, started his streak by going hitless in his final nine at-bats for the San Francisco Giants during the 2010 season. In 2011, his final year in the majors, he had 37 at-bats with the Los Angeles Dodgers and failed to record a hit.
Facing Oakland starter Marco Estrada to lead off the top of the second inning, Davis hit a line drive that A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty caught. In his second at-bat, with two on and one out in the third, Davis tied Velez’s record by hitting a liner to left that Robbie Grossman gloved.
In his third trip, facing reliever Yusmeiro Petit in the fifth inning, Davis set the new record with a lineout that sent Grossman racing back to the warning track. All three of Davis’ outs had an exit velocity of at least 90 mph, including 104 mph on the record-setter.
“First three at-bats were really good,” Baltimore’s rookie manager Brandon Hyde said. “So I’m taking that as a positive moving forward.”
Davis’ last two at-bats weren’t as impressive. Facing reliever Liam Hendriks with a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, he struck out looking. Then, against Fernando Rodney with two out and one on in the bottom of the eighth, he struck out swinging. That made him 0-for-49.
Tim Kurkjian thinks baseball is partly to blame for Chris Davis’ struggles, saying this is a tough sport, and this can happen.
In stark contrast to the heavy boos he received during the O’s home opener on Thursday, Davis got a warm reception from the tiny Monday night crowd at Camden Yards, which greeted him with ovations in each of his first two trips to the plate. The announced attendance was 6,585 for a new Camden Yards record. The previous record of 7,915 was set on April 9, 2018.
“Everybody in here is pulling for CD,” said Orioles starter Andrew Cashner, who scattered nine hits over 5.1 innings to pick up the win. “The guy used to be one of the most feared hitters in baseball. So it doesn’t just affect him, it affects us. We don’t want to see him do bad. We want to see him to do well.”
Davis, who didn’t speak with reporters after the game, hasn’t recorded a hit since doubling against White Sox hurler James Shields on Sept. 14 of last year. The Baltimore first baseman went hitless over his final 21 at-bats of the 2018 campaign, then started this season by going 0-for-23 with 13 strikeouts over the Orioles’ first nine games, prior to Monday.
Davis led the majors with 53 home runs in 2013, when he finished third in the voting for American League MVP. In 2015, he led the league again with 47 homers. Following that season, Davis signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Orioles. Since then, he has been a huge disappointment. He set an MLB record last season by hitting .168, the lowest average ever by a qualified hitter.