O's run gamut of emotions during trying week
Club played game without fans, postposted two contests due to unrest in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles -- who played Wednesday's game, an 8-2 win over the White Sox, in front of no fans for the first time in MLB history -- are headed south to host a "home" series at Tropicana Field this weekend.
With everything going on in the city of Baltimore, here's a quick refresher on the O's past few days and what's to come:
Saturday, April 25: The Orioles played their regularly-scheduled Red Sox game, although there was a brief lockdown of Camden Yards announced on the video board in the ninth inning due to protests that had become potentially dangerous in the area.
Fans were permitted to leave in the 10th inning, with the Orioles advising them of the safest routes to take home. The planned demonstration was for Freddie Gray, and it clogged downtown Baltimore, causing the team to close an entrance gate for part of the evening.
"It's a challenging day for a lot of people, but probably a lot more than a baseball game," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who arrived in-game after attending his father-in-law's memorial service. "It's a game of baseball, and those are life issues, so [baseball] kind of pales in comparison to what's going on in my life off the field and what's going on in our city. Just have to continue to have confidence that we'll get through it, like we get through most things in Baltimore, and hopefully learn from it."
Monday, April 27, and Tuesday, April 28: While Sunday's day game was relatively quiet, Monday brought about unrest in the city that started four miles northwest of the stadium and moved closer to downtown. The Orioles pregame activities went off as planned, but as groups of protesters moved to Eutaw Street, the team shut down all but two entrance gates. At approximately 6:20 p.m. ET, the Orioles announced the game would be postponed due to safety reasons.
"The decision was reached after consultation with local officials," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who was in town on a previously-planned trip. "We feel like we made the decision that would provide us the greatest possible security in terms of the fans, the players, the umpires and everybody involved in the game."
With a citywide curfew of 10 p.m.-5 a.m. ET starting Tuesday, the O's decided to postpone Tuesday night's scheduled game by early afternoon. They also outlined a plan for the rest of the week, including Wednesday's 2 p.m. start, which would be closed to the public.
Wednesday, April 29: With an announced attendance of zero, the Orioles scored six runs in the first inning and went on to beat the White Sox, 8-2. There was limited in-game entertainment, and the eerily silent game, which was televised, flew by in just over two hours.
"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 the early offense, including a three-run homer from Chris Davis. "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."
Thursday, April 30: In lieu of a scheduled off-day at home, the Orioles boarded a plane to St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon. Before leaving on the bus to the airport, several players stopped and thanked the National Guard, with catcher Ryan Lavarnway tweeting out a photo.
Friday, May 1: The O's will play a "home" series at Tropicana Field, with $15 tickets for general admission and game times the same as the originally scheduled times in Baltimore. The Orioles will wear white uniforms and bat in the bottom of the innings, and in-game entertainment at the Rays' home dome will be limited. For Baltimore, now on a nine-game, 10-day road trip, it will be one more break from the norm.
"It's tough. Everyone knows how much we like playing in front of our fans, how important baseball is to the city of Baltimore," said Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who will start Friday's game. "It goes to show how bad this really is, that we actually have to move it. You know, better safe than sorry."