For home-run happy Orioles, there's no place like home
BALTIMORE (AP) For the Baltimore Orioles, home is where the victories are.
Coming off another series win at Camden Yards, this time over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, the Orioles boast a major-league best 39-17 record at home.
Their power-laden lineup leads the big leagues with 89 homers at home, including 31 by Mark Trumbo - who tallied 22 all last season with Arizona and Seattle.
''They're built to play in this ballpark,'' Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. ''You've got some guys who hit fly balls, who hit it out of the ballpark. They don't hit too many ground balls.''
Most teams play better at home. However, the Orioles have taken it to a higher level. They're 13-2-3 in 18 series at Camden Yards compared to 8-10 on the road.
''They seem like they really enjoy playing in their own ballpark,'' Banister said.
It begins with the pleasure of sleeping in a familiar bed, then driving the usual route before walking into a cozy, spacious clubhouse.
''Maybe it's just a comfort level,'' shortstop J.J. Hardy said.
The Camden Yards experience includes the loud ''O!'' (for Orioles) screamed by the crowd when the national anthem reaches the point, ''OH, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.''
That's when the visitors know they're in a hostile environment.
''Think about the unity their fans have when they yell, `O!' It's a tradition you learn by coming to the ballpark,'' Rangers outfielder Ian Desmond said. ''That comes with time. It's part of home-field advantage.
''A young rookie that's never been here before playing the Orioles, he's standing out there for the national anthem and he's like, `Whoa, what was that?' It's like, they're ready. They're on-point today.''
They don't sell out the place every night anymore, but Camden Yards remains a mecca for baseball enthusiasts with deep ties to the hometown team.
''I'll give the fans a lot of the credit,'' Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said.
Desmond was far more adamant about the role played by the boisterous backers in orange and black.
''The Orioles are an old organization that has fans that understand the game. They know when to cheer. They get it. Players feed on that,'' he said. ''Home-field advantage is like a bond between the players and the fans.''
Baltimore stands atop the AL East because of its success at home. But if the Orioles are to remain in the playoff hunt they will likely have to improve on the road, where they were 22-29 through Thursday.
The team was to begin a 10-game road swing Friday, facing the White Sox, Oakland and San Francisco.
''I look at it as, we haven't been good on the road so hopefully that's due to turn around on this trip,'' Wieters said. ''At the end, if you win 93 games and it's 81 at home and 12 on the road, it doesn't matter. It's just about getting to that number you need to make the playoffs, and then getting hot at home or away.''
The way they've been playing at Camden Yards, the Orioles would like nothing more than to secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
''It's huge,'' Wieters said. ''In the playoffs, it's all about momentum, and if you can get the crowd behind you it can influence the game by a couple of runs.''