By Sally Fahey
Chris Davis went 0 for 5 to set a major league record for the longest hitless streak by a position player, extending his drought to 49 consecutive at-bats in the Orioles’ 12-4 rout of the Oakland Athletics.
Baltimore’s highly paid first baseman hit three fly balls before striking out in the seventh and eighth innings, leaving him 0 for 28 this season and 0 for 49 since hitting a double early in a game Sept. 14. The previous longest drought by a non-pitcher was 46 at-bats, by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Eugenio Vélez.
Davis has heard plenty of boos from the home crowd this season, but many among a meager crowd of 6,585 at Camden Yards offered him encouragement with every trip to the plate. The announced attendance was the lowest in the history of the ballpark, with the exception of a game in 2015 that was closed to the public at a time when the city was plagued by rioting.
The highlight of Davis’s night was an opposite-field liner to the edge of the warning track in left field on his record-setting 47th straight fruitless at-bat.
Vélez went hitless over his last nine at-bats of the 2010 season before going 0 for 37 in 2011, the last of his five major league seasons. That enabled him to eclipse the previous longest hitless streak of 45, shared by Pittsburgh’s Bill Bergen (1909), Dave Campbell of San Diego and St. Louis (1973), and Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell (2011).
The dubious record now belongs to Davis, who batted .168 last year — the worst batting average in major league history for a qualified player.
Davis is in the fourth season of a $161 million, seven-year contract.
The 33-year-old has two RBIs this season — on a bases-loaded walk and a forceout. He’s struck out 15 times.
On Monday, he lined out to right field in the second inning against Marco Estrada and matched the record hitless streak in the third with an opposite-field fly to left.
‘‘He really wanted to play today,’’ Hyde said.
Davis entered hitting .167 (6 for 36) with three homers against Estrada.
Hyde has done his best to be patient with Davis.
Davis has been getting booed by the home fans after his strikeouts.
‘‘Fans are welcome to handle situations the way they want to,’’ Hyde said. ‘‘Unfortunately, it’s hard to listen to for me.’’