(AP) — After cruising to a win at Camden Yards with no fans present in their last game, the Baltimore Orioles will now play as the home team in a visiting ballpark.
The Orioles look for a fourth consecutive victory as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday night, when they’ll bat last in each inning in what will be another bizarre on-field situation.READ MORE: SEE IT: Good Samaritan Recalls Moment He Jumped Into Bay To Rescue Toddler After Ocean City Crash
The silence was deafening Wednesday when Chris Davis hit a first-inning, three-run home run onto Eutaw Street in an 8-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, believed to be the first major league game played without fans.
After the first two games of the series were postponed amid the unrest in Baltimore, the contest was closed to spectators due to safety concerns following rioting sparked by Monday’s funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody.
MLB also moved this Friday-to-Sunday series from Camden Yards to Tropicana Field. The Orioles (10-10) are making their second trip there after taking two of three to open the season.
“It’s tough, everyone knows how much we like playing in front of our fans, how important baseball is to the city of Baltimore,” Friday’s starter Chris Tillman told MLB’s official website. “It goes to show how bad this really is, that we actually have to move it. You know, better safe than sorry.”
Tillman (2-2, 7.58 ERA) has alternated good and bad outings in his four starts, allowing one run apiece in two of them and seven in each of the other two. One of the rough ones came last Thursday, when he walked five and lasted 4 1-3 innings in a 7-6 loss at Toronto.
The right-hander has won three straight starts against the Rays, posting a 0.83 ERA. He’ll make his second start of the season in St. Petersburg after allowing one run over 6 2-3 innings in a season-opening 6-2 win April 6.READ MORE: Baltimore Mayor Announces Pilot Program To Direct Some 911 Calls To Mental Health Professionals
Evan Longoria homered off Tillman in that contest and is hitting .389 with six home runs against him. James Loney and Desmond Jennings are a combined 5 for 45 in the matchup.
Jennings has not played since Saturday because of left knee soreness, but the Rays are hopeful he’ll be able to return Friday. The outfielder is batting .333 during an eight-game hitting streak against Baltimore.
Loney delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the 13th inning of Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the New York Yankees. Afterward, the Rays (12-10) scrambled to find a crew to fly them to Tampa in the middle of a nine-game road swing.
They’ll try to take advantage of the schedule shift by notching their sixth straight victory at Tropicana.
“It’s like being at your own house, but visiting,” right-hander Alex Colome said of the strange circumstances.
Colome is making his season debut after dealing with a case of pneumonia. He gave up one run and two hits over 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 road win in his only career start against Baltimore on June 27.
The Orioles have averaged 8.4 runs in their last five games. Manny Machado is 10 for 23 with three home runs in his past six, though he’s 6 for 43 in his previous 12 against the Rays.MORE NEWS: Unemployed Workers Rally, Demanding To Know When They Will Get Their Money
Davis has gone 6 for 15 with three homers in his last four but is 4 for 45 in his past three versus Tampa Bay.