Chris Davis has put up Frank Thomas-like numbers all season long.
Suffice it to say, he’s not the guy you want to face with the game on the line.
The White Sox found themselves in an unenviable spot on Wednesday night as Davis came to bat with two men on in a tied game.
The Baltimore Orioles slugger continued his amazing first half with a home run and a late two-run double as the White Sox fell 4-2 in front of 26,001 at U.S. Cellular Field. Davis’ 58th extra-base hit of the season in the eighth inning off reliever Matt Thornton broke a 2-all tie and the White Sox -- who earlier in the day placed Jesse Crain and Paul Konerko on the 15-day disabled list -- lost for the sixth time in seven games.
“You don’t want (Davis) up in those situations,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You do anything you can to keep guys off the bases. When a guy’s hot like that, I don’t know if that pitch Matty threw was all that bad. It wasn’t like one of those that was just hanging there. He got the barrel on it and kept it fair.”
Davis entered Wednesday’s game with 25 doubles and 31 homers.
The only other player to have 25 or more doubles and 30 or more homers before the All-Star break was Thomas, who in 1994 had 27 doubles and 32 homers.
Davis edged even closer to Thomas against White Sox starter Hector Santiago and Thornton.
Davis broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with an opposite-field solo homer off Santiago. He drove a 91-mph fastball on the outside corner just over the fence and inside the foul pole in left for his 32nd homer and a 2-1 lead.
“He’s really strong,” Santiago said. “He just put the barrel on it and it went out. At one point I was like ‘Get this guy out so he doesn’t come up with runners on base.’ You kind of know when he’s on deck. I don’t think that pitch he hit was a great pitch, but he was so strong he got a hold of it.”
Davis struck again in the eighth.
Thornton took over for Matt Lindstrom (2-3), who gave up a pair of singles and recorded one out. The left-hander’s first pitch was an 83-mph slider up and over the middle of the plate and Davis yanked it just inside the right-field line for a two-run double to give the Orioles a 4-2 lead.
Davis’ .731 slugging percentage is the fifth highest in American League history before the All-Star break behind: Mark McGwire (.796, 1996), Thomas (.795, 1994), Mickey Mantle (.794, 1956) and Jimmie Foxx (.744, 1933).
“They’ve got a guy that’s hitting .330 and driving in a million runs and hitting a million home runs,” said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who blasted a game-tying solo home run in the fifth inning. “He’s really good. It’s tough to say anything about our side when he’s doing what he’s doing.”
The White Sox offense was no match for Davis.
Down 1-0, the Sox did tie the game in the first against former Cubs starter Scott Feldman, who made his Orioles debut one day after he was traded.
Alex Rios singled with two outs and stole second base and Adam Dunn doubled to right-center field to drive him in. Dayan Viciedo followed with a sharp single, but Dunn had to hold at third and both were stranded when Feldman struck out Conor Gillaspie.
The White Sox also added a run in the fifth inning on Beckham’s solo homer to left, his first of the season.
But Feldman set down 16 of 19 at one point and stranded two runners in scoring position.
Feldman allowed two earned runs and six hits with six strikeouts over six innings. The Orioles bullpen then combined for three shutout innings, though closer Jim Johnson brought the winning run to the plate in the ninth before he struck out Beckham and retired pinch-hitter Jordan Danks on a comebacker.