We saw baseball history yesterday in Baltimore, but certainly not in a good way. Heck, there’s really no other way to describe yesterday’s 8-2 win over the ChiSox aside from bizarre. For the first time in MLB history, a game was played with a paid attendance of 0. Never before had an MLB game been played that was not open to the public. But it was obviously done out of necessity.
There’s no point in re-hashing the reasons why, because we all know them. However the fact is that the Orioles provided Baltimore with a few hours respite from reality, that was probably very much needed. In the team’s first moments of being the face of Baltimore before the entire country, the Birds and starter Ubaldo Jimenez did not disappoint. Jimenez’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R (0 earned), 1 BB, 6 K.
The game was so quick (two hours and three minutes), that it almost brought the strained people of the city back to reality too soon. The Birds took a 1-0 lead in the last of the first on Adam Jones’ sac fly-RBI with the bases loaded. However they were loaded for much longer after that. Chris Davis hit a ball onto Eutaw St (which was caught by nobody) for a three-run homer, and the O’s furthered that lead to 5-0 on Everth Cabrera’s RBI-double. Add on Caleb Jospeh’s RBI-single, and it went up to 6-0. A second Cabrera RBI in the third sent the lead up to 7-0.
A Manny Machado error in the fifth netted two runs for Chicago, which were the two aforementioned runs that Jimenez yielded. However other that that, he was a master on the mound for the Birds yesterday. However Machado made up for his mistake when he smacked a one-out home run to left-center, giving the Orioles an 8-2 lead. Credit Jimenez, Kevin Gausman (who pitched the eighth), and Zach Britton for holding the game at that point.
This game was obviously about much more than just baseball. However the win did put the O’s back at .500 for the season (at 10-10). But this was a game like no other in history. And quite frankly I hope it never happens again. It’s tough to say what the players had to be thinking while playing a game in front of literally nobody (the press box was full, and there were two or three scouts in the stands). I suppose it’s one of those things where you don’t really notice the effect fans have on a game until they suddenly aren’t there.
But make no mistake about the fact that this was a total win for the city of Baltimore. The fact that the O’s took the field admist so much unrest should say something about the resilience of the city and it’s people. And the Orioles now find themselves as the faces of the situation to a certain degree – especially Adam Jones. Time will tell what type of effect this has on the team, but the early returns are positive.
Seeing the O’s jump out to an early lead as such was exactly what the city needed under the circumstances, as was evidenced by Adam Jones’ comments to MASNsports’ Steve Melewski after the game:
"The Orioles support the city of Baltimore. On everything. We are out there playing for the fans and the city. That is what is across our chest, and we are trying to represent them in the best way. They support us through the good and the bad, and as players, we support them."
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
To me, the most poignant image of the day occurred outside of the ballpark. Approximately 200 fans (give or take) gathered outside of the left field gates near the picnic area. It was a quasi-tailgate party, which included people bringing picnic lunches and listening to the game on the radio while peering in to catch as much of the action as they could. Numerous players addressed this after the game, and in fact if you watched the game on TV or listened on the radio the group was faintly audible while cheering positive motives for the O’s.
My hope is that one of the lasting images of this tragedy is that group of people gathered outside of the ballpark. That served as a symbol of the resiliency of the city. Things occur which rock the world and put sports on the back burner for sure; however there are few franchises that represent it’s city’s people the way the Orioles do with Baltimore. And that group outside the ballpark yesterday told the world what Baltimore is truly all about. In closing, I’ll use the same line I used yesterday: This, is the Oriole Way.