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Orioles beat White Sox 8-2 at empty Camden Yards

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Orioles beat White Sox 8-2 at empty Camden Yards

BALTIMORE – During the seventh-inning stretch, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy” were played. Three scouts seated behind home plate stood.

Moments later, Jim Misudek, the Orioles manager of media relations announced the official paid attendance: zero.

There was actually a crowd estimated at about 100 gathered on Camden Street peering in to see whatever they could of the empty ballpark.

What they saw pleased them. In between chants of “O-R-I-O-L-E-S” and “Let’s go O’s,” the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 8-2 on Wednesday.

There were some familiar touches. Chris Davis, who often tosses balls into the stands at the ends of innings, threw some into the empty stadium.

Chatter could be heard on the field, but the game was devoid of controversy.

“It was still baseball between the lines. It's still that,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The players seemed to enjoy the novelty.

"It never fails, catch a ball to end the inning, it's just reaction. But I thought it would be fun. The first few were in the lower section and then I gave some love to the fans in the upper deck,” Davis said.

Davis has loads of fans in Baltimore, real and like today, imaginary ones. But he and his teammates tried to make light of a situation that they knew was dangerous.

The first baseman’s three-run home run, part of a decisive six-run first inning, did have that empty feeling.
“I’ll take any home run I can get at any time I can get it, but it’s definitely more fun where there are fans in the stands,” Davis said.

The Orioles (10-10) have now won three straight for the first time this season, and both their starting pitching and offense has begun to click.

As Showalter walked to the dugout in the moments before the game began, he reminded himself that this was important.

“You realize that you're a few minutes away from playing a major league baseball game that's going to count. You tried to stay focused on the competition, us trying to get where we want to be at the end of the season. But I also talked to them about the people who are going to be sitting around our city watching this game,” Showalter said.

Besides the self-appointed cheerleaders outside the gates, there were fans who rented a room in the neighboring Hilton Hotel and hung a “Go Orioles” banner outside it.

Adam Jones noticed them.

“A game with no fans, but they were out at the hotel. You could see on the balcony, you could hear them outside the gates. A lot of people were telling me to look up the check-ins on Facebook. So there were people around supporting, just not inside the stadium,” Jones said.

Ubaldo Jimenez (2-1) had another strong start, allowing two unearned runs in seven innings, walking one and striking out six.

“I thought it was pretty important, because what the city is going through right now is hard. I know a lot of people were watching that game on TV, supporting that game for the city. As a player you know that take the mound, you take the field and you know what’s going on outside,” Jimenez said.

On Sunday, in their last game before unrest caused two consecutive postponements, they scored 18 runs, their most in more than nine years scoring six runs in both the third and seventh innings.

They equaled that in the first inning. Eleven batters hit off Jeff Samardzija (1-2). Alejandro De Aza walked, Jimmy Paredes reached on an error and Delmon Young singled to load the bases. De Aza scored on Jones’ fly to right.

Davis hit home run that reached Eutaw Street for a 4-0 lead. Manny Machado and Everth Cabrera doubled, and after Caleb Joseph’s RBI single, it was a 6-0 lead.

Machado’s throwing error led to Chicago (8-10) scoring two runs in the fifth.

Cabrera’s second RBI double in the third scored Machado, and the third baseman hit his fourth homer of the year in the fifth.

Davis was asked what he wants people who watched to remember.

“I hope they see the good side of the city and the people who are out there helping to clean up and rebuild and help get the city back on its feet,” he said. “I hope the win kind of gives us a shot in the arm and picks everybody up.”

NOTES: The team had 10 or more hits for the fourth straight game. … Davis’ reached Eutaw Street for the sixth time. … Chris Tillman (2-2, 7.58) faces Alex Colome (0-0, 0.00) as the Orioles travel to Tampa Bay on Friday. … The game was played in two hours, three minutes, the fastest the team played since Oct. 2, 2010.

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.