A hated enemy, many empty seats
Though it’s difficult to quantify many of the variables that have contributed to a significant drop in the Orioles’ home attendance this season, it’s fairly easy to measure the possible impact of one factor — the unrest in Baltimore last year.
In the 90 home games from the start of the 2014 season to the “no-fan” game April 29, 2015, the Orioles drew an average of 30,712. In the 136 home dates since the fanless game, including the 24,226 at Friday night’s 8-0 victory over the New York Yankees, the Orioles have drawn an average of 27,869, or about 3,000 fewer per game.
But here’s where it becomes difficult to forge a direct link to that unfortunate time. The average attendance for the last 68 home dates in 2015 was 29,141. The average for the first 68 home dates of 2016 is just 26,597. It would seem logical that the impact of the unrest on the number of both local fans and tourists would diminish over time.
So, it’s something of a mystery why the Orioles rank 20th in the major leagues in home attendance. Silence is golden: There did not appear to be a large number of Yankees fans in the stands Friday night, which could mean one of two things: Either the Orioles pounded the Yankees so thoroughly that the usually vocal New Yorkers had nothing to shout about or the out-of-town presence was diminished because summer vacation is over and the kids are back in school.
No, wait. It can’t be the latter because New York public schools don’t open until several days after Labor Day. Adam’s back: Adam Jones was in the leadoff spot after missing five-plus games with a hamstring strain. He immediately made his Chris Davis hits a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Orioles a 5-0 lead over the Yankees during Friday night’s win at Camden Yards. Pedro Alvarez crosses home plate after his two-run homer put the Orioles ahead 3-0 in the second. presence known to Yankees righthander Chad Green. Jones led off the Orioles’ half of the first with a slicing line-drive single to center and drove in a run with another single to center in the second inning. More importantly, he looked comfortable on the bases and in center field. Momentum-killer: The Orioles were coming off a game Wednesday night in which the Toronto Blue Jays scored three runs in the first inning and never looked back, so they certainly didn’t want to give the Yankees an opportunity to set a similar tone Friday night. Brett Gardner had other ideas when he led off the game with a sharp single to center field, but Matt Wieters made a perfect throw to pick him off first base moments later. This time, it was the Orioles who never looked back. Yankees woe: Green came up sore after just 12⁄ innings. He was removed from the game after giving up the first four Orioles runs with what was described as pain in his pitching elbow. He was examined during the game and is expected to undergo further tests. Home run-record update: The Orioles hit four home runs Friday night, raising their season total to 213 in 134 games. That projects to 258 homers over the full 162-game schedule, which would fall six short of the all-time single-season record set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997. September and continue the dice roll in October. We’ve got a chance.”
They will need more victories like this one. They gained ground on the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays but still trail them by three games and cling to the second AL wild-card spot.
Alvarez’s home run, a fullcount fastball launched onto Eutaw Street to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead, marked the first time since 2010 a major league club has featured at least six 20-homer hitters. After Manny Machado walked and right-hander Nick Goody replaced Green, first baseman Chris Davis hit an 89-mph fastball into the right-center-field bleachers and home run leader Mark Trumbo followed by lining an 0-2 slider into the left-field stands for his 41st homer of the season.
Within a span of five batters, the Orioles turned a scoreless game into a six-run cushion.
Machado tacked on two runs in the fourth by jumping on a first-pitch slider from reliever Kirby Yates after Alvarez drew a leadoff walk. Machado’s 33rd homer of the season was a blast deep into the left-field stands, hit so hard that it didn’t monitor with MLB’s Statcast system.
Bundy recovered well after being battered at Yankee Stadium in his previous start to the tune of five runs over four innings. He came within just one out of a quality start and left the game after throwing 97 pitches, 63 of them strikes.
After receiving an early lead, Bundy (8-5) kept his focus. He allowed just two hits — both singles — and none after the third inning. He battled with his command, tying his career high with four walks, but allowed the Yankees to reach second base just once.
“You’ve just got to go out there and focus on trying to get a shutdown inning,” Bundy said. “Treat every inning like that, even though it’s 8-0. Go out there in the sixth and try and get a shutdown inning for the team. … It’s interesting every time I come to the ballpark and watch this offense hit. We’ve got a good lineup, and they can put up runs for us.”