Baltimore Orioles: No Fans Make for a Quiet, Fast Game


Apr 29, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) pitches during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Fans are not allowed to attend the game due to the current state of unrest in Baltimore. Baltimore Orioles defeated Chicago White Sox 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For all of us, we will forget the vast majority of Baltimore Orioles games that we see in our lifetimes. But none of us will forget the game with the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. It was a game that will be remembered in baseball history – the game played in front of zero fans in attendance.

Those of us who are Orioles fans will likely always recall it as a substantial win for the O’s. Other baseball fans might forget that detail, while certainly remembering the scenes of empty seats.

One of my primary memories of the afternoon and evening of 9/11/01 was brought back to me on this day of the empty stadium. I live in flyover country to the west of both Washington and Baltimore. Just about any time you step outside, there are planes in the sky with a low noise. You forget about it, as the sound is sort of like crickets at night in the summer. But with all aviation grounded on that date, it was the quiet that especially was noticeable.

And that it how it was in Camden Yards on Wednesday afternoon. Eerie quiet. Sounds were heard even on TV that are not audible at other games. For example, dozens of shutters all going off at the same time sounded like a firing squad of machine guns for Ubaldo Jimenez’s first two pitches. Fielders calling balls could be easily distinguished. And it was said that the home run shot of Chris Davis onto Eutaw Street could be heard landing and bouncing.

Indeed, the big blow of the game was the three-run homer by Davis in the first inning, giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead at that point on the way to an 8-2 victory. Davis has been hitting a bit better. I’ve not written about this, but I have thought Davis might do well to move off the plate just a little, while also opening his stance a fraction more. It looks as though he may well have done this and is getting the better part of the bat on balls up and in.

Though Manny Machado would commit another error (#5 in 20 games) that cost two unearned runs, he would also go 3-for-4 at the plate, including a home run. Machado is also making good contact these days and appears to have fully caught up to the speed of the game. I think we can look for stellar numbers and performance out of him from this point forward.

And Ubaldo Jimenez was simply excellent, going seven innings and giving up but three hits and a walk, recording six strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 1.59.  He threw 61 of 89 pitches for strikes. This is the guy that Orioles fans hoped they were getting, and it is great to see the investment finally bearing some fruit.

Another unusual element of this odd game was how quickly it passed. Having UJ pound the strike zone really helped! And the game would take 2:03 to complete. Do fans slow down the game?  I thought it was the batter stepping out of the box!

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The last time an Orioles game of nine innings was completed faster than Wednesday’s game was on the next to last day of the 2010 season. On that date Brian Matusz pitched six innings in a 2-1 win over the Tigers in a flat 2:00 to complete the game.

While researching that last point, it was interesting to see how the name Jeremy Guthrie kept coming up as a starter in the shortest O’s games – both when pitching for the Birds as well as against them since he was traded away.

So Thursday is another day off before more odd and awkward games take place at Tampa Bay on Friday. It is already a very, very weird season.

NOTE:  Be sure to read all of our Ravens coverage of the NFL Draft today in over the next several days.

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