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Fans pack chilly Camden Yards for playoff return

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Fans pack chilly Camden Yards for playoff return

BALTIMORE (AP) Orioles fans waited 15 years to see a playoff game at Camden Yards, so enduring a rain delay wasn't all that much of an imposition.

Even if it was snowing, nothing was going to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd for the opening game of the AL division series between Baltimore and the New York Yankees on Sunday night.

``I want to see the Orioles beat the pants off the Yankees,'' said 57-year-old Carol Pounsberry, who was the first in line at Gate A, three hours before the scheduled 6:15 p.m. start.

A steady rain delayed the first pitch for nearly 2 1-2 hours. Those in attendance knew that no matter when the first pitch came, it would be worth the wait.

After 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles pulled off a stunning reversal by winning 93 games to earn a wild-card berth. Then, after beating Texas 5-1 on Friday, Baltimore returned home to host the hated Yankees in Game 1 of the first-round series.

This is the time of year when the stadium is usually locked shut and the field is blanketed with a tarp. Instead, the fans flocked into the park while the Orioles took batting practice. The Major League Baseball logo with the word ``POSTSEASON'' was painted on the outside portion of the first- and third-base foul lines.

When the Orioles last played a playoff game at Camden Yards, Baltimore lost a seven-game AL championship series to Cleveland, 4-2. The series ended with Armando Benitez giving up the winning run in the 11th inning.

Jim Thome, now 42 and a designated hitter for Baltimore, was Cleveland's first baseman that day.

``I was here in `97 with my wife when Benitez lost the game and probably the World Series,'' said 58-year-old Rick Lynch, who was wearing an Orioles hat, a jersey and a coat.

Since that time, the Orioles headed home after the final regular-season game. Without fail. Until now.

Stephanie Brooks was 11 years old in 1997. She arrived Sunday with her fiance, Justin Sucuiletti, who was wearing a Derek Jeter jersey and a Yankees cap.

``My dad was an avid Orioles fan. He grew up in Maryland and he raised me to be an Orioles fan,'' she said. ``I have never seen them in the playoffs, so this is really exciting for me.''

Sucuiletti wasn't sure whether the couple could survive the week without an argument.

``It depends on who wins tonight or the next few games,'' he said. ``Whoever advances to the ALCS.''

Since 1997, the Yankees have participated in the playoffs every single year except for one. Brooks figured it was about time for the Orioles to show their superiority.

``I think it's really important because the Yankees win so much,'' she said. ``It's really special for us to be here. I would love to have the opportunity to brag over him about it.''

Orioles manager Buck Showalter could only hope his team would appreciate the moment, but not be affected by it.

``It's impossible to tell your players to take the emotion out of an at-bat or a pitch or a throw or whatever,'' he said. ``That's why we've tried to do as much as we can, everything the same with some exceptions, with the schedule. We're trying to stay in routine.''

Ah, but nothing about this was routine. On a wet, chilly Sunday in October, the Baltimore Ravens' home stadium across the street was empty and Camden Yards was buzzing.

``I'm glad they're back where they should be,'' Pounsberry said. ``I have been waiting 15 years to see this.''

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Orioles make home run history Tuesday night in more ways than one

Orioles make home run history Tuesday night in more ways than one

The Orioles pitching staff has struggled with the long ball all season long, and it culminated in a couple of historic moments at the ballpark.

First, it was Gary Sanchez joining his teammate Gleyber Torres in torturing Orioles pitchers this season, launching his eighth home run of the year against the O’s alone. 

Torres reached that mark earlier in the series, making them the first pair to reach eight home runs in the same season against the Orioles since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. 

Anytime you’re the first to do something since literally Ruth and Gehrig, two of the greatest home run hitters in the history of the sport, you’re clearly doing something right (or wrong, if you’re an Orioles fan).

What’s especially concerning for the Orioles is how quickly Torres and Sanchez reached this mark, needing less than two months to accomplish what no one else had in an entire season for the last 88 years.

The other piece of history made also came with shocking speed in 2019.

In April, the Orioles became the first franchise to allow at least 50 home runs before May 1. The unfortunate thing for them is they reached the mark with a week and a half to spare.

That trend has continued into May, and the pitching staff now has another claim to fame.

In the sixth inning, the Yankees crushed their third bomb of the evening, bringing the Orioles home runs allowed total to 100 on the season. Per ESPN, the previous fastest team to allow that many was the 2000 Royals, who needed 57 games to make history.

The Orioles did it in just 48. They aren’t just setting records; they’re obliterating them.

Understandable, manager Brandon Hyde is less-than-pleased with the mark.

"We’re facing good teams, but you gotta pitch." Hyde emphatically told reporters after the game. "Gotta stay off the barrel, gotta be able to locate And if you don’t, in a hitter's ballpark, against guys who mash, you're going to give up 100 homers in 40-something games."

Hyde isn't wrong. If the staff keeps pitching the way they have so far, it’s not hard to imagine the Orioles setting a few more benchmarks for futility in 2019.

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Orioles Roundup: Bullpen blows early five run lead

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Orioles Roundup: Bullpen blows early five run lead

The Orioles had a five-run lead, but the bullpen was unable to hold it. The Yankees scored nine runs in the final four innings, leading their way to a 10-7 victory.

Here is your latest news on Baltimore and New York:

Player Notes:

ORIOLES:

Hanser Alberto had a career night in the loss. He had a career-best four hits and finished a triple short of the cycle.

Mark Trumbo could return to the field sooner than expected. He's expected to start some extended spring training games soon, with rehab starts to soon follow after that.

YANKEES:

Gleyber Torres hit his eighth home run of the season against Baltimore. It's still May.

Gary Sanchez completed the comeback for the Yankees, putting them ahead for good with a three-run home run in the ninth. He finished with four RBIs.

Miguel Andujar underwent successful surgery on his labrum on Monday. While he won't play again this season, he should be ready for spring training next season.

For the first time in his career, Troy Tulowitzki could play a position other than shortstop. He recently approached the Yankees brass and told them he'd be open to playing another position when he returns from injury, as Didi Gregorius is expected to return soon.

Injuries: 

SP Alex Cobb: Back, 10-Day IL

SP Nate Karns: Arm, 10-Day IL

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-Day IL

Coming Up:

Monday 5/20: Orioles @ Yankees, 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium 

Tuesday 5/21: Orioles @ Yankees, 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium 

Wednesday 5/22: Orioles @ Yankees, 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium  

Thursday 5/23: Orioles @ Yankees, 12:35 p.m., Yankee Stadium  

Source: Rotoworld

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