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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' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 

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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

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USA TODAY Sports

David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."

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