2015 Baltimore Orioles
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2015 Baltimore Orioles / Franchise: Baltimore Orioles / BR Team Page
Managed by Buck Showalter
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2015 Baltimore Orioles were among the victims of violent rioting that shook the city of Baltimore, MD in April of that year. The troubles began when a young black man, Freddie Gray, died of a spinal injury in police custody on April 19th, one of a number of fatal encounters between young black men and police that had shaken various cities around the United States in recent months. On April 25th, fans at Camden Yards were advised not to leave the ballpark early because of concerns for their safety as a game went into extra innings, although police were able to allow spectators to leave with no major incidents when the game was completed. On April 27 and 28th, the first two games of a home series against the Chicago White Sox were postponed because of concerns over spectator safety, and the final game, on April 29th, was played in front of an empty stadium. It was an unprecedented move for a major league game, and reminiscent of European soccer clubs forced to play under similar circumstances because of a failure to control rowdy fans. The Orioles won that strange game, 8-2; it was an eerie experience, as the stands were empty except for a few scouts and photographers, but the teams still went through the normal routine of playing the National Anthem or at-bat entrance music and displaying statistics on the scoreboard, even if the players were the only beneficiaries. The team's next home series, against the Tampa Bay Rays, was moved to St. Petersburg, FL with the Orioles unusually taking the role of the home team even if they were playing in their opponents' ballpark, Tropicana Field.
After an indifferent start to their season, the defending AL East champions got hot in early June, when they won 8 of 9 games to insert themselves in the middle of a tight four-team race for the division lead. The highlight of that stretch came on June 16th, when they set a new team record by hitting 8 home runs in a 19-3 demolition of the Philadelphia Phillies. Manny Machado homered off Jerome Williams on the second pitch of the 1st inning to get things rolling, as the O's scored 6 runs in the inning and chased Williams, His replacement, Dustin McGowan, gave up 5 long balls in 3 1/3 innings, and the Orioles added another off Justin De Fratus in the 6th, who reacted by throwing his next pitch at J.J. Hardy and was ejected from the game. Machado and Chris Parmelee, who was playing his first game for the team, both hit two homers, with Jimmy Paredes, David Lough and Chris Davis also going deep. OF Jeff Francoeur pitched a scoreless 7th inning, but in the 8th, he gave up a solo shot to Ryan Flaherty that broke the team record of 7 homers, accomplished three times.
On June 28th, the Orioles swept a doubleheader over the Cleveland Indians, 4-0 and 8-0, to move into first place for the first time since April 19th, when they were tied for first for a day. It was the first time the team had recorded shutouts in both games of a doubleheader since September 6, 1974. Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez were the two starting pitchers. They had won 15 of 19 games at that point.
The Orioles were busy at the trading deadline as they made three significant personnel moves on July 31st. First they designated P Bud Norris for assignment; he had been one of the heroes of the Orioles' late-season surge in 2014, but was only 2-9 with a 7.06 ERA this year. Next, they addressed the fact that their left fielder (David Lough, Travis Snider and Nolan Reimold) were hitting a combined .210 at that point by obtaining veteran Gerardo Parra from the Milwaukee Brewers. Parra was hitting .328 for the year and had the highest batting average among all major league players in July, at .435, and had only cost AAA starter Zach Davies in return. The third move was to send veteran P Tommy Hunter, a solid contributor in long relief for a number of seasons, to the Chicago Cubs in return for OF Junior Lake. Lake had seen little work for the Cubbies, but was hitting .310 with good power for the AAA Iowa Cubs.
Still in the running for a postseason slot until mid-August, the Orioles were distanced in the second half of that month and early September when they lost 15 of 18 games starting on August 18th. They were 7 games under .500 by September 7th.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Zach Britton, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Darren O'Day
- AL Gold Glove: Manny Machado (3B)
- Gary Belleville: "September 11, 2015: Orioles exact revenge on Royals with pair of 8th-inning grand slams," SABR Baseball Games Project.
- Anthony Castrovince: "MLB game without crowd also without precedent: Uncharted territory for White Sox-O's, though events often lead to low attendance",mlb.com, April 28, 2015. 
- Kevin Cowherd: When the Crowd Didn't Roar: How Baseball’s Strangest Game Ever Gave a Broken City Hope, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2019. ISBN 978-1-4962-1329-7
- Paul Hagen: "O's, White Sox experience a game like no other: Players react to first contest in big league history without fans", mlb.com, April 29, 2015. 
- Jacob B. Lourim: "Orioles regroup after Gerardo Parra and Junior Lake trades, roster moves", USA Today Sports, July 31, 2015.