O's make noise vs. White Sox at empty Camden Yards
By Brittany Ghiroli and Todd Karpovich
BALTIMORE -- For the first time in Major League Baseball history, the Orioles and White Sox -- because of protests in Baltimore -- played a game closed to fans. But the O's did their best to make up for the lack of atmosphere, piling on Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija with a six-run first inning, including Chris Davis' three-run homer, that led to an 8-2 win on Wednesday afternoon.
Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who waited two extra days to pitch against the White Sox because of the pair of postponements earlier in the week, didn't disappoint. The righty struck out six and held Chicago to three hits over seven innings, allowing just two unearned runs.
"We all know everything the city is going through," Jimenez said, referring to some of the violent protests in Baltimore spurred from African-American Freddie Gray's death in police custody. "So that's something you put in your mind, you have to go out there and do something that would be good for the fans."
Samardzija lasted five innings and allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and one walk in the afternoon contest, which was pushed up because of the citywide 10 p.m. ET curfew. Chicago scored a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning following Manny Machado's throwing error.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Orioles' bats make some noise: The Orioles batted around in the first inning, setting the tone early in an eerily silent stadium. Davis provided the big knock, while Machado went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Caleb Joseph went 2-for-4 and picked up two RBIs.
"We were yelling, and then we kind of felt bad because we're like, 'Show some sportsmanship a little bit, too," closer Zach Britton said of the home dugout's reaction to Davis' homer.'" You don't want to over-do it because you knew everyone could hear you. It was just weird because it kind of tempered our celebration a little bit."
Ubaldo stays hot: The right-hander continued to enjoy a renaissance of sorts, bouncing back from a rough 2014 season to turn in his third start -- in four games -- without an earned run. Jimenez walked just one in the 89-pitch outing.
"Probably after the first batter I faced, it was the same [as a regular game]," Jimenez said of the atmosphere. "I felt like it was one of those Spring Training 'B' games, or one in the Minors. But after the first guy, I was like, 'This is the situation. This is a game you have to win.'"
Tough outing for Samardzija: The right-hander, who got the start after appealing his five-game suspension for last week's benches-clearing incident against the Royals, struggled early. Samardzija allowed six runs (five earned) in the first inning when he loaded the bases with no outs. Davis did most of the damage with a towering three-run homer to right field. First baseman Jose Abreu also had a costly throwing error that eventually led to a run. More >
Quiet bats: The White Sox have traditionally been successful against Jimenez, who entered with a 5.01 ERA in 10 starts against them. However, Chicago could not get much going against the right-hander. An error by Machado gave the White Sox their first run in the fifth, and then a groundout by Geovany Soto cut the lead to 7-2. But that was as much as they could muster against Jimenez.
"It was just a surreal environment. I really don't think we want to play in another one like this. I don't think they do either." -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura, on playing in an empty stadium
"Hopefully, [those watching on TV] see the positive side of things. I hope they see the good side of the city and the people who are out there helping to clean up and rebuild and help get the city back on its feet. I hope that even though the game was closed to the public, what our focus was. We didn't want to take the Guards or the police officers, the people who are protecting the city, you didn't want to take them away from their job and be a distraction. I hope the win kind of gives us a shot in the arm and picks everybody up." -- Davis, on the national attention of Wednesday's game
"Everything in life, this too shall pass. Something's bad if you keep repeating it. We hope to take out of it a starting point for our city." -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter on the magnitude of the game More >
Despite the official attendance of zero, a small crowd of fans watched the game from outside the gates of Camden Street and nearby hotel balconies. In lieu of an actual crowd, with only a few scouts seated behind home plate, the typical in-game entertainment was limited and the concourses were completely blocked off. Players from both teams tried to create some atmosphere with clapping and yelling, and Soto threw a ball into the empty bleachers at the end of the second inning to mimic a regular game. The Orioles still played their customary "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver for the seventh-inning stretch. More >
JONES SOUNDS OFF
The Orioles' leader and one of the city's most popular African-American athletes, Adam Jones had some powerful words pregame regarding what's going on in Baltimore. Jones, who has a home nearby, has been a fixture in the community since coming to Baltimore.
"This is their cry. This isn't a cry that is acceptable, but this is their cry and, therefore, we have to understand it," Jones said of the violent protests which have enveloped the city. "They need hugs. They need love. They need support. As much as I can give, as much as I know people on the opposition can give, I'm going to try and give as much as I can, because the city needs it. More >
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Left-hander Chris Sale (2-0, 2.37 ERA) has appealed his five-game suspension for his role in the incident with the Royals, and he will face the Twins on Thursday at Target Field at 7:10 p.m. CT. Sale has been stellar so far, as he goes for his third win in four starts.
Orioles: Baltimore's weekend series against the Rays will shift to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg because of safety concerns, and the O's will board a plane on Thursday's off-day in advance of Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET opener. The O's will still wear white uniforms and hit second during the series, with Chris Tillman taking the hill.