Khris Davis homered twice, including a go-ahead shot to lift the Brewers over the Reds. [Al Behrman/AP]
On first glance, Khris Davis may seem like the non-union equivalent, spelling-wise, to Chris Davis. But in his 23 MLB games this season, Milwaukee's Davis has crushed the ball like his Baltimore counterpart. On Friday against Cincinnati, Davis knocked two home runs for the first multi-homer game of his career, and is now hitting .330/.412/.730 in 85 plate appearances to go with eight homers and 17 RBI. In case you were wondering, that's a .392 isolated power; for what it's worth, the league leader in that category is Baltimore's Davis, at .383.
A ninth-round draft pick out of Cal State-Fullerton in 2009, the 25-year-old Davis has hit for power at just about every level. Last season, he put up a .368/.455/.842 line in 154 plate appearances for Double-A Huntsville, his second go-around with that team, then hit .310/.414/.522 for Triple-A Nashville in 140 plate appearances. This year, he was hitting a less spectacular .255/.349/.473 in 281 plate appearances for Nashville around a pair of major-league call-ups, but was given a third MLB shot after Ryan Braun was suspended for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Since then, all he's done is rake for the Brewers.
With Milwaukee well out of playoff contention—Friday's win moved them to a mere 19 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the NL Central—it's likely that Davis will play out the season as the Brewers try to get an idea of who can help them as they rebuild for next season. A couple more weeks hitting like he has, and maybe Khris Davis will get a full-season chance to best Chris Davis in 2014.
On the plus side, at least he got to leave a Cubs game early: Friday night's start against Chicago won't make Edinson Volquez's personal highlights DVD. (Note: If said DVD does exist, all copies of it should be destroyed.) The Padres' right-hander allowed the first eight batters of the game to reach, giving up three singles, a home run, a triple, two walks and a hit-by-pitch for six runs, five earned, before being yanked after two outs recorded. That horror show shot Volquez's ERA for the season all the way up to 6.01, as his lost 2013 continues apace.
Going into Friday's start, Volquez's ERA+ was a career-worst 60, and he hasn't broken 100 in that mark since his superb 2008 season. Since then, Volquez has thrown 545 1/3 innings with a desultory 4.90 ERA; in his two seasons for the Padres, Volquez has an ERA+ of 74 in 324 1/3 innings to go with 172 walks. That can't be what San Diego thought it was going to get in exchange for Mat Latos.
For Volquez, everything has been downhill since he underwent the one-two punch of Tommy John surgery and a 50-game suspension for PEDs in 2010. His fastball, once averaging 94 MPH, is down nearly two miles an hour from his peak, and his curveball and changeup have gone from useful secondary pitches to totally unusable. Already making $5.7 million this season, Volquez is a definite non-tender candidate for the offseason, and at 30, will likely have to take a make-good one-year deal from a non-contender.
Big days for rookies: In Tampa and Houston, a pair of AL rookies had some milestone days. For the Rays, Chris Archer threw seven innings against the Yankees, allowing just two runs on four hits with four strikeouts, to pick up his seventh win of the season. But it was the opponent who made the day special for Archer; Friday's victory was his third of the year against New York. According to YES Network's Jack Curry, Archer is the first rookie pitcher to beat the Yankees three times in a season since Kevin Brown pulled the trick in 1989 for the Rangers. All told, Archer has given up just three earned runs in 22 innings versus New York with 14 strikeouts and three walks.
For the Astros, meanwhile, the rookie feat of the day was simply making it to the stadium. Prior to Friday's game, the Astros called up 31-year-old catcher Cody Clark, his major-league debut after 10-plus seasons in the minor leagues. Originally an 11th-round pick of the Rangers in 2003, Clark has spent time in the systems of Texas, Kansas City and Atlanta, plus a stint with an independent-league team. His best season came in 2009, when he split time between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha for the Royals, batting .312/.379/.503 across both levels. This year, he was actually sent down to Double-A Corpus Christi after hitting just .217/.258/.273 for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Called up to replace backup catcher Max Stassi, who suffered a concussion on a hit-by-pitch Thursday, Clark didn't start but got his first major-league game action in the eighth inning of Houston's 12-4 win over the team that drafted him, Texas. Clark struck out as a pinch hitter and finished the game behind the dish. Before the game, Clark told MLB.com that he broke down in tears when he got the news of his call-up, then called his wife and parents, who were able to make it to Houston in time for the game to watch him play.
Clark will likely be with the team until either Stassi or Carlos Corporan, also suffering the effects of a concussion, is ready to return. Until then, he'll get to enjoy all the perks of big-league life, even if it is with the Astros.