Matt Davidson has never been able to pimp one of his home runs. The White Sox slugger said that not once in a lengthy pro career has he believed he got enough of a ball to enjoy the view as it exits a stadium.
But that practice concluded in the sixth inning on Tuesday night and it ended with a little hop.
“It was natural,” Davidson said.
The third baseman’s late grand slam helped the White Sox pull away and down the Baltimore Orioles 6-1 in front of 15,038 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Davidson’s homer was his team-leading 12th and Avisail Garcia also had a two-run double in support of Derek Holland, who pitched six solid innings for his first win since May 21.
“I knew it when I hit it,” Davidson said. “You don’t really feel anything when you hit balls like that.”
Davidson — who also homered in Monday night’s victory over the Orioles — stepped to the plate with the White Sox ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Baltimore starter Alec Asher had loaded the bases ahead of Davidson by hitting Avisail Garcia and walking Todd Frazier after Jose Abreu led off with a single. Davidson barely missed on a 2-2 fastball, hitting a deep drive foul into the left-field corner. But he wouldn’t miss the 3-2 offering, blasting it 15 rows beyond the bullpen in left field to put the White Sox up by five runs. The ball exited Davidson’s bat at 112 mph and traveled 435 feet.
“He put a great at-bat together,” said manager Rick Renteria, who Tuesday was treated to a belated beer shower for his 100th victory, which occurred on Monday. “Obviously, that was a tremendous battle. I know he fouled off -- hit the one foul, into the dugout or something. He left one up and put a really good swing on it. Obviously was able to drive it out of the ballpark. He hit it pretty well. Obviously those four runs were pretty big.
“He's done a nice job taking whatever opportunities we've given him and that's just a total credit to him.”
The White Sox pulled ahead 2-1 in the fourth inning on Garcia’s two-run steamroller to left-center field. Melky Cabrera and Abreu, who had three hits, each singled ahead of Garcia.
That was all the support Holland needed as he worked out of a number of stressful situations. Holland allowed eight hits and walked two in six innings. The Orioles had two men reach base in four of those six innings but Holland only allowed a first-inning run on Manny Machado’s one-out RBI single.
Holland struck out five and walked two.
“You’ve got to make the situations as small as possible and make the pitches when you need to,” Holland said. “Made a key pitch to Machado (in the fifth) and kind of continue to go from there.”
Stuck in the minors the previous three seasons, Davidson has made the most of his first crack at the majors since 2013. While he’s striking out in nearly 38 percent of his at-bats, the rookie has a .503 slugging percentage as he’s homered once every 14.6 plate appearances this season.
Still, despite a number of round-trippers, Davidson hadn’t felt comfortable enough to enjoy one until Tuesday. As he exited the box, Davidson hopped a little, a move he said was totally unscripted.
“That one felt pretty good,” he said.