A hated en­emy, many empty seats

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Peter Sch­muck peter.sch­muck@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Sch­muck­S­top eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard

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.”

PATRICK SMITH/GETTY IM­AGES

PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

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