Two Cities that rose to prominence together, could fall together.
The last time the Orioles played in front of a home crowd was April 26th. The last time they played at Camden Yards was April 29th before having to move their home series against the Rays to Tampa because of the unrest in Baltimore. Even though it has only been two weeks, it seems like forever since the Orioles has played at home in Camden Yards. I decided to attend “Re-Opening Day,” and I can say that seeing the O's take the field gave me a sense of normalcy, which I think this entire city needed.
Ironically, the Orioles home opener this season was against the Blue Jays, Toronto winning 12-5, but tonight in “Re-Opening Day,” the O's defeated the Blue Jays 5-2 for their 14th win of the season. Orioles currently sit 4th place in the AL East, 5.5 games behind the 1st place Yankees.
O's got off to a fast start thanks to Ubaldo Jimenez 1-2-3 inning, striking out the Blue Jays first three batters on 17 pitches. Jimenez was awarded the win and MVP honors for his performance, striking out 9 batters, and only allowing 2 earned runs in 7 innings of work. This was probably one of Ubaldo's best games as an Oriole, along with his performance in the “No Fans Game”. So far this season, Ubaldo 3-0 at Camden Yards with a sub-2.50 ERA, and 23 strikeouts in 21 innings. He hasn't lost at Camden Yards since June 13th 2014 against the Blue Jays.
The momentum continued into the bottom of the first, Orioles scoring 3 runs off of 2 long-balls. Manny Machado hit a leadoff home run (6th) to the bleachers and Chris Davis hit a 2-run bomb (8th) to the exact same area Manny hit his.
The Blue Jays would get on the board in the 6th and 7th inning, Ezequiel Carrera knocking in both RBIs off his 2 doubles. Baltimore enemy #1 Jose Bautista wasn't in the lineup tonight but he did pinch hit in the 9th inning but grounded out to end the game, Zach Britton claiming his 7 save of the season.
This was a necessary win for the O's, who are still sitting under .500 ball, not only because of their slow start but to give the fans of Baltimore some much needed positivity. Last time I attended an O's game, I sat in the press box but today I bought a ticket and it felt good to sit and watch the ballgame as a fan and native of Baltimore. Joining in on chants, cheering during full counts, just being an Orioles fan, something you can't really do sitting in the press box. It is a great luxury being in there and an honor that I will never take for granted if given another opportunity but it's nothing like sitting in the bleachers or standing above the bullpens.
(Baltimore) 2015 has been a memorable year for me, especially the month of April, even more so this past week. I wrote about the turmoil that happened on April 25th, which I had to witness via Television. Monday, April 27th, I took a break from all sports and focused on helping create a better image of our city after one of our worst moments.
The MLB was forced to postpone the Orioles game with the White Sox. A game in which I acquired media credentials, my first professional game as a media member. A game that was slated to be a regular O's vs. Sox game, turned out to be a once in a lifetime moment.
I can tell my grand kids I attended a game where there were ZERO fans in attendance, and honestly, it may have been the best game I ever experienced. Media members who were over the age 50 were marveled by the historical moment, still being able to witness something they have never seen before despite years of experience.
Prior to the game, I didn't know what to expect, which made me feel very indifferent. Fan's bring excitement to the game and help generate momentum. I thought it would be a drag to watch a "lifeless" game but once the first pitch was thrown, it turned out to be one of the best moments of my life.
In the 1st inning, the O's got off to a fast start. Ubaldo Jimenez sat down the first three batters to open the game, striking out both Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu. Ubaldo had himself a good day, going 7 innings, only allowing 3 hits and 2 earned runs. I would say Ubaldo set the tone for the team and killed my curiosity about how the momentum would build. Fans outside the gate helped also.
The game was pretty much over after the first inning. The entire Orioles' lineup got the opportunity to face White Sox's starter, Jeff Samardzija, who had a very rough day in a quiet stadium. Samardzija went 5 innings, giving up 7 earned runs, 6 of which came in the 1st.
Chris Davis hit a 3-run bomb onto to Eutaw Street, giving the O's an early 6-0 lead.
Manny Machado also hit a home run in the 4th inning, jogging the bases in an empty stadium. It was a surreal feeling being a part of history. Oriole fans showed much support cheering from outside of the stadium, making sure you heard them loud and clear.
As the game went on, I started to fall in love with the beauty of the game. No fans meant no show. I was blessed with the opportunity to watch baseball at it's purest form. You could hear the players call out fly balls in the outfield. Without the fans, there were no distractions from the game. You had to sit and actually watch the ballgame, which for me, was very refreshing and ironic, being that our brand is based solely on being a fan.
The game only took 2 hours and 3 minutes to complete. An average MLB game is at least 3 hours in duration, but things seemed to have went quickly with no one in attendance.
At the 1:51 mark, you'll hear me ask O's manager, Buck Showalter, a question that has made a few headlines across the country. I would like to thank Buck for answering my question and giving me an honest and genuine answer.
Baltimore is going through a crisis right now which is the reason why this historical game happened. People seem to be uncomfortable talking about why the game was fanless. I noticed a lot of the media coverage for this game choose not to speak on what was going on outside of the stadium. I understand why one would want to speak only on Baseball but when you have historical moments, you have to examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of the situation. I'm not telling other media outlets to speak on the crisis in Baltimore but I will assure you that Fan-I Sports will bring that conversation to the public.
The Orioles and White Sox are coming into this series needing a string of wins to get over the .500 hump. The Orioles are currently 9-10 while the White Sox are 8-9, both riding a 2-game win streak.
The O's are coming off a series win over division foe, Boston Red Sox. Friday Night, the Red Sox defeated the O's 7-5 thanks to an 8th inning three-run homer by Brock Holt off a Darren O'Day fastball that sat right over the plate.
The O's would come back Saturday night with some late game magic of their own, David Lough hitting a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give the O's a 5-4 victory, also ending their 5-game losing streak.
Unfortunately, Saturday's victory was overshadowed by chaos on the outside of the stadium .
Sunday, the O's just blew the doors off the Red Sox, driving in 18 runs off 20 hits, most points they've scored since 2000. Everyone in the lineup for the Orioles contributed in some type of way, whether it was a hit, walk, or run. The Red Sox would score 7 runs, all coming in the last 3 innings. Bud Norris also notched his first victory with his performance, pitching for 6 2/3 innings and allowing 3 earned runs.
The White Sox are coming off a series win against their division foe, the Kansas City Royals. Thursday night both teams got into a scuffle, which led to 7 players being suspended, Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija both receiving 5 game suspensions and will likely miss this series against the Orioles pending their appeals.
White Sox took 2 out 3 against the Royals, all three games being decided by less than 2 runs. In a 3-2 victory from a suspended game on Friday that was resumed on Sunday, Avisail Garcia drove in the winning run with his RBI single in the 9th inning. Sunday's official game ended with a 5-3 result for the White Sox, all 5 of their runs coming in the 6th inning.
Ubaldo Jimenez will start for the Orioles while Hector Noesi will start for the White Sox in the opening game of the series.
Noesi is 0-2 in 2 starts this season. He has allowed 6 earned runs in 10 innings of work. Some Orioles has had success against Noesi, most notably Adam Jones and Alejandro De Aza. Both De Aza and Jones have a +.600 batting average against Noesi, combing for 18 at-bats, 6 RBIs, and 11 hits. He also has a 1-4 record against the O's in 9 games (4 starts), allowing 17 earned runs. His last start came against the Indians on April 21st, which resulted in a loss after he allowed 4 hits and 4 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Jimenz is looking for his 2nd victory of the season. So far this season, he has an ERA of 2.30 and has only allowed 4 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. Jimenez isn't no stranger to the Sox, playing 3 seasons with the Indians in the AL Central but he hasn't had great success. 2-3 in 10 starts against the White Sox with 33 earned runs in 59 1/3 innings.
In order for the O's to extend their two-game win streak, they must strap down on their pitching. The Orioles have the highest ERA in the league right now, 5.04, which is not championship caliber baseball. Last year the O's went 5-1 against the Sox, outscoring the Sox 27-16.