The Rays were looking for a way to forget the pain and suffering of their horrendous trip, and Wade Davis provided some darn good amnesia.
Davis delivered a complete-game shutout for his first major-league win as the Rays beat the Orioles 3-0 Thursday.
Catcher Dioner Navarro raved about what the pitcher did, firing 18 first-pitch strikes and mixing an assortment of dazzling pitches. Manager Joe Maddon praised him for how he did it, working calmly through a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first and battling though his 124th pitch, striking out the side in the ninth.
Davis, a strong, silent type, had a simpler take.
"It's fun," he said.
The Rays (74-73) needed it, putting a good finish on an awful trip in which they went 2-9, lost the first seven games to all but officially end their slim postseason hopes (formal notification is just days away), saw Carlos Pena suffer a season-ending injury and sat through more than seven hours of rain delays.
Davis allowed the first three batters to reach, walk-double-walk, but battled out of that mess and dominated from there, allowing only three more baserunners on the night, finishing with a four-hitter and 10 strikeouts in his third major-league start, with his fiancee and future father-in-law in the stands.
It was a night that seemingly couldn't have done better, though Davis, 24, had a bit of a sour taste at the end after the customary celebrations - a shaving cream facial and a first-win beer shower.
"It smelled bad, it smelled like PBR, so that was the downer," Davis (actually) joked. "And the shaving cream didn't taste very good. Whipped cream would have been better."
Davis made a dazzling debut against Detroit on Sept. 6, then struggled mightily in his second outing Saturday in Boston, feeling he was being too fine. He promised a more aggressive approach Thursday, and he delivered.
Maddon noticed it from the first inning on, as he got Nick Markakis on a ground out (on what should have been a double play ball to Evan Longoria), struck out Melvin Mora and for Luke Scott on a fly out.
"That's the impressive part," Maddon said. "Bases loaded, nobody out in the first inning and they've got some pretty firm guys coming up to the plate and he wiggled out of it."
At that point, Davis said he was just hoping to get through six innings. But the Rays had given him a meager lead, and he seemed to get stronger as the game went on, with late movement on his fastball, a nasty slider and sharp-breaking curve, which he was willing and able to throw early in the count.
"Every pitch was easy," said Baltimore's Michael Aubrey.
Davis became the first major-leaguer in nearly a year, since Toronto's Scott Richmond last Sept. 26 at Baltimore, to get a complete-game shutout for his first win, and the first Ray since Travis Harper on Sept. 24, 2000.
The Rays gave him just enough support, scoring twice early, when Carl Crawford singled after Jason Bartlett tripled, and when Gabe Kapler bunted in Ben Zobrist, and added a run in the ninth. They also played good defense behind Davis, though Fernando Perez had to leave with a sore left wrist shortly after a spectacular back-to-the-field, running-into-the-wall catch.
And as painful as the trip was, at least they went home happy.
"A win is always a wonderful thing," Maddon said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.