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At empty stadium, Orioles get to Samardzija early, roll to 8-2 victory over White Sox

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles pounced on the White Sox for six runs in the first inning and cruised to a 8-2 victory in the first major league game ever played without fans.

It was an eerily quiet scene when the Orioles took the field with only media in the press box and a few scouts in the fifth row behind home plate watching as the Orioles erupted for six runs in the first inning against Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

After Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez struck out Adam Eaton to open the game, Melky Cabrera rolled out to Jimenez and Jose Abreu struck out. A group of fans peering through a fence beyond the left-center field wall and a group on the deck outside the Hilton Hotel beyond left cheered.

When Chris Davis homered inside the right-field pole with two runners on to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead, the Orioles radio broadcaster was heard yelling “outta here.”

The Orioles had six hits in the first inning but Samardzija may have deserved better. After De Aza walked, Jimmy Percedes hit a potential double-play grounder to¬† Abreu at first, but after making one move toward first, Abreu spun and threw to second, his throw pulling shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s foot off the bag. Ramirez’s return throw was late, setting up a big inning for the Orioles.

The scene was strange and highly unusual, of course, as foul balls landed harmlessly in the seats before being picked up by a stadium employee, players were heard in the pressbox cheering each other on and barking “cut” and “got it” on defense.

The Orioles’ big first inning seemed to take the life out of the game, although it was hard to tell because of the eerie silence. In the pressbox, the paid attendance was announced as “zero.”

During the seventh inning stretch, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was played and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” an Orioles tradition, was blared on the speaker system.

Samardzija (1-2) allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and one walk. He struck out one. Carlos Rodon made his second appearance, pitching one perfect inning in the eighth.

The first two games of the series were postponed because of rioting in Baltimore. For security reasons, MLB decided to play this one with no fans.