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Orioles had their best week in city's worst week

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Orioles had their best week in city's worst week

In one of the more difficult weeks they’ll ever have to endure, the Baltimore Orioles thrived.

If you look back nine days, the Orioles won five of six games, and many of the problems that seemed to envelop the team have vanished.

On Apr. 25, the Orioles were 7-10. They hadn’t been four games under .500 since the end of the 2011 season.

Since then, their lives were uprooted by the riots.

Nine days ago, thousands of fans were prevented from entering the ballpark because of nearby unrest.

Wei-Yin Chen started a streak of six straight quality starts and the team recorded an improbable 5-4 10-inning win. They trailed 4-3 in the 10th, but Adam Jones’ triple, Chris Davis’ sacrifice fly and David Lough’s home run gave them the win.

Sunday was a quiet and beautiful day. A large crowd watched Bud Norris pitch his best game of the season and the Orioles score 18 runs, their most in more than nine years.

Monday was an awful and frightening day. With baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on hand, the game was postponed about 45 minutes before its scheduled start.

Only several hundred fans were in the park. Two entrances were open while the rest were secured, and the teams quickly left.

Tuesday’s game was postponed that morning, and later that day the announcement that Wednesday’s game would be played without a crowd and the weekend series move to Tampa Bay.

With the city much quieter, the ballpark had an eerie feel as the Orioles rushed through their fastest game in nearly five years, an 8-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Chris Davis threw balls into the empty stands and Caleb Joseph pantomimed signing an autograph for a nonexistent fan.

“Saturday Night Live” even jumped in with a skit based on the empty ballpark.

Zach Britton, one of the most thoughtful of all the Orioles, wondered why the Rays couldn’t have switched a series in July for the one the Orioles played there.

There were other considerations, too. The Orioles could have played in Washington or Philadelphia, but those weren’t seriously considered, and Ed Smith Stadium, their spring training site which barely holds 8,000 was considered, too.

Fans from Baltimore might have had a hard time traveling to Nationals Park because of the curfew, which was rescinded on Sunday. Washington would have been too close psychologically, too.

It was best the series was relocated. Fears that tiny crowds would be the story were quickly shot down. Nearly forty thousand, each crowd larger than the last, paid to sit in Tropicana Field’s lower deck.

Crowds on Saturday and Sunday were larger than for many Rays home games even though the series was hastily arranged.

It turns out that Ed Smith Stadium would have been too small for the crowds, and the Rays were reluctant to move their July 24-26 series to Baltimore. They had scheduled popular country singer Kacey Musgraves for that weekend and had a large advance sale.

I guess it would be like switching “Floppy Hat Night” or “Buck Showalter Garden Gnome Night.”

The best part of the weekend was that the Orioles won two of three, and pitched brilliantly even in Friday’s loss. Chris Tillman allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings.

Miguel Gonzalez was brilliant working into the eighth inning, and Chen’s two runs in six innings kept the team afloat until they could rally for three runs in the seventh.

Concerns about the bullpen have abated because the starters are able to work deeper in the games.

J.J. Hardy could play this weekend for the first time this season. He’s been given the go-ahead to play at least three rehab games at Bowie this week. Ryan Flaherty will join him.

If the Orioles choose to activate both this weekend, Rey Navarro will simply be optioned back to Norfolk, and then a tough decision could be forthcoming.

Everth Cabrera has an option remaining, and is hitting just .221. He has just two extra-base hits, both doubles. He’s struck out 18 times and walked just twice.

If Steve Pearce plays acceptably at second base, Cabrera could be sent down.

Lough is another possibility, but he has no options remaining and could be claimed on waivers.

He missed the first four games with a hamstring injury, and in the three weeks since his activation has started just three games.

Lough is helpful as a backup outfielder, has some speed, but with the current alignment has little hope of playing more. Cabrera played in the outfield during spring training, and Flaherty has played there in the past.

This week’s highlights are the Orioles first road trip against both the Mets and Yankees. Surprisingly, the Yankees lead the AL East by three games over the Orioles.

RELATED: [Jones' four hits help Orioles take two of three]

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Rainout delays Orioles RHP Cobb's reunion with Rays

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USA TODAY Sports

Rainout delays Orioles RHP Cobb's reunion with Rays

BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays have to wait at least one more day before taking their swings against former teammate Alex Cobb.

Cobb, now with the Baltimore Orioles, was scheduled to face his old team on Tuesday night before the game was postponed by rain.

Thus, Cobb will start Wednesday in the delayed start of this series between the only two AL East teams with losing records.

The rainout will be made up as part of single-admission doubleheader on May 12.

It was the 27th major league game to be postponed this season, the most related to weather through April since the commissioner's office started keeping records in 1986. Detroit's game at Pittsburgh was washed out later Tuesday, raising the total to 28.

Cobb, 30, spent his entire career with the Rays before signing with Baltimore as a free agent on March 21. Over six years with Tampa Bay, the right-hander was 48-35 and one of the leaders of the staff.

"He was a crucial part to this organization's success," Rays starter Chris Archer said. "He's a big-game pitcher and somebody who's very consistent, very routine oriented. The competitive nature rubbed off on me and rubbed off on the other guys in this clubhouse as well."

Cobb signed a $57 million, four-year deal with the Orioles, who will be counting on him to deliver the same kind of pitching and leadership in Baltimore.

Thus far, it hasn't gone well. Cobb got off to a late start because he missed most of spring training, and since his return he's gone 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA.

"Abbreviation has affected that," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He's going to get going here. Hopefully he can wait one more start before he does."

Brad Miller was down to bat cleanup for the Rays on Tuesday night before the game was called. Miller knew better than to chat with his old friend beforehand.

"Definitely wouldn't talk to him on his start days," Miller said. "Thought about maybe texting him just to rattle him a little bit, but ... ."

Miller won't know what to think when he sees Cobb wearing the orange and black of the Orioles.

"It's definitely going to be weird seeing him on the mound," Miller said. "I miss Cobb a lot. He was the ultimate competitor."

And that, Miller contends, is what sets Cobb apart from most pitchers.

"He's a bulldog. Really intense, kind of an old-school throwback starting pitcher," Miller said. "He's going to go out there and do anything he can for his team. So that, for me, is obviously his biggest trait."

The rainout came at an opportune time for the Orioles, who are hampered by injuries and have lost nine of 10 games to fall 11 games under .500 (6-17).

Baltimore's projected starting lineup did not include infielder Tim Beckham, who's been bothered by a groin injury and is expected to land on the 10-day disabled list.

With Beckham out and Trey Mancini playing with a tender right knee, manager Buck Showalter would have been operating with a short bench.

Help is on the way: Baltimore claimed utility infielder Jace Peterson on waivers from the New York Yankees. He's expected to arrive Wednesday.

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Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

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USA TODAY Sports

Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

BALTIMORE — The Cleveland Indians figured it would only be a matter of time before their struggling offense provided some support to a solid starting rotation.

Jose Ramirez and the rest of the batting order finally got into a groove Sunday, and the result was a 14-hit attack that carried Corey Kluber and the Indians past the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.

Cleveland came into the game with a .211 team batting average and ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs scored. On this day, however, Ramirez hit a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run drive in the ninth, and Yan Gomes had three hits to lift his batting average 41 points to .261.

"When things are not going my way, I stay positive and work it," Ramirez said through a translator. "I know eventually I'm going to break out."

Ramirez has three homers in two games and a team-leading seven for the season.

"I try not to do too much," Ramirez said. "I just look for a good pitch and then I hit it somewhere."

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Kluber yielded two home runs to Manny Machado, but the Indians twice came from behind before tacking on three runs in the ninth.

"I thought we did a pretty good job," manager Terry Francona said. "When they came back, we came back at them. We kept pushing and took some better swings."

Kluber (3-1) allowed three runs and six hits over seven-plus innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner walked none and struck out four to move past Charles Nagy into sixth place on the Indians' career strikeout list with 1,238.

"It doesn't matter if you feel you pitched well or didn't pitch well. The goal is to end the game with more runs they do," Kluber said. "That's what we did."

Machado's third multihomer game of the season wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from losing for the ninth time in 10 games, a skid that has dropped them 10 games under .500 (6-16).

"You know what? There's no excuse for what's happening," Machado said. "We need to play better overall. Nobody is in here pointing fingers. We are in here together, and we are going to ride or die together."

Andrew Cashner (1-3) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking two and striking out seven. He's 0-3 with 7.41 ERA in three lifetime appearances against the Indians.

After Machado connected in the first inning, Cleveland went up 2-1 in the fourth when Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso hit successive doubles following a leadoff homer by Ramirez.

Baltimore regained the lead in the bottom half. After Machado homered, Adam Jones doubled and scored on a single by Chris Davis.

A pair of walks and run-scoring singles by Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley put the Indians up 4-3 in the fifth.

"Once you get the lead, you can't give it up," Cashner lamented.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: CF Bradley Zimmer was a late scratch with a mild right ankle sprain. He was replaced by Rajai Davis.

Orioles: LF Trey Mancini missed a second straight game with a swollen right knee. ... DH Mark Trumbo (strained right quad) will begin a three-game stint with Double-A Bowie on Monday, then play three games with Triple-A Norfolk later in the week, manager Buck Showalter said. He won't be rushed to return. "It's important we get it right the first time," Showalter said.

WELL RESTED

Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin threw a side session Saturday and is expected to start Tuesday against the Cubs. Francona opted to skip Tomlin's last scheduled start Wednesday to reset the rotation after Cleveland had two straight games postponed last weekend.

UP NEXT

Indians: Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 3.48 ERA) starts the series finale Monday night. The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his past 11 starts since Aug. 27.

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57) makes his fifth start of the season after allowing 27 hits -- including six homers -- over 21 innings.

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