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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles were back in action at Camden Yards

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The O’s welcomed an opponent to Baltimore for the first time in 2020, losing an exhibition game to the Nationals. Actual baseball, folks!

MLB: Exhibition-Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

What’s that weird sensation in the air? (And no, I don’t mean COVID-19.) Is it...maybe...possibly...almost starting to feel like baseball season?

This bizarre, truncated, possibly-shouldn’t-be-happening-at-all 2020 MLB season is nearly upon us, with the Orioles set to kick things off at Fenway Park in three days. And last night the O’s did something they haven’t done since last September: they played a game against an opponent at Camden Yards.

The Birds were on the losing end of a 4-2 exhibition score against the Nationals, but who cares about the result? There was actual baseball in action on the Orioles’ home field, televised on MASN for baseball-starved fans to enjoy. Suddenly this whole thing is starting to feel real.

Obviously, there were some striking changes in last night’s festivities compared to the pre-coronavirus baseball world. Staff, umpires, and some players wore face masks on the field. Players celebrated in a responsible, socially distanced manner with air high fives and elbow bumps instead of hugs and butt slaps. And it was constantly jarring to see the cameras pan around an entirely empty Camden Yards seating bowl, a startling reminder that, hey, the general state of the world is still pretty crappy.

But between the white lines, baseball was back, and it was — dare I say it — a lot of fun. Alex Cobb took the mound for the first time in forever and pitched quite well, other than one gopher ball surrendered to Howie Kendrick. Jose Iglesias racked up three hits; Anthony Santander, just back in camp after recovering from COVID-19, made up for lost time with a pair of hits off Stephen Strasburg. It was a good, crisp, well-played ballgame, and it provided some much-needed entertainment for a few hours. I could definitely get used to watching this every day for the next two months, even if it’s not quite the same type of baseball we’re accustomed to.

If everyone involved is ready to get this thing rolling, so am I. Bring on Opening Day.

Links

Cobb impressive early, Santander with two hits in 4-2 loss (updated) - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko has more about last night’s Orioles action, including the unfortunate news that Stevie Wilkerson will miss “significant time” with a fractured finger. Get well soon, Dr. Poo Poo.

Projecting the Orioles’ 30-man roster as Opening Day on Friday looms – The Athletic
Dan Connolly ventures his best guess for the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, and there are some exciting decisions coming down to the wire. If your definition of “exciting,” is, like, choosing between Bryan Holaday and Austin Wynns for third catcher.

Baltimore emerging as possible site for Blue Jays’ 2020 ‘home’ games - Sportsnet.ca
If this happens, it’ll be the first time a non-Orioles team played home games at Camden Yards since Major League 2.

Orioles’ minor league director tries to make the best of 2020 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Poor Matt Blood. The guy just got hired as director of player development, and now there are, well, no players to develop. That's Blood-y unlucky. (I'll be here all week, folks.)

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy birthday to Orioles Hall of Famer and current O’s broadcaster Mike Bordick, who turns 55. In Jim Palmer’s absence from MASN broadcasts this season for COVID-19 concerns, Bordick will be one of the main color guys on the O’s TV network for 2020.

Other ex-Orioles born on this day include 2012-15 lefty Wei-Yin Chen (35), 2011 righty Willie Eyre (42), eight-year O’s reliever Mark Williamson (61), and the late righty and noted prankster Moe Drabowsky (b. 1935, d. 2006), who was part of the Birds’ first two championship teams.

On this date in 1996, the Birds reacquired Orioles legend Eddie Murray from Cleveland after trading him away in a regrettable deal eight years earlier. Murray served as the Orioles’ main DH for the rest of the season, hitting his 500th career homer on Sept. 5, and then batted .333 in the playoffs against the Indians and Yankees. That second stint in Baltimore helped wash away some of the sour taste of Murray’s initial departure.

And on this day in 2000, the Orioles won a game in Canada for the first time in two years, snapping a 20-game losing streak in Toronto (14) and Montreal (six). The Birds bopped two homers off future Hall of Famer Roy Halladay, including one by Harold Baines as part of his four-hit day. The aforementioned Mike Bordick went 1-for-5 on his birthday.