At Norfolk, Harbor Park lives up to its name (plus some O’s notes and quotes)

If a team’s baseball field was several inches under water one day, could they play a doubleheader there the next day?

They could and they did in Norfolk. Harbor Park, the home of the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, was under water on Thursday afternoon after torrential rain and the game got rained out. Last night, they played a doubleheader there and the Tides have two more games scheduled tonight beginning at 5:05 p.m. against Gwinnett.

You may have seen some of the pictures of the field which made the rounds on social media Thursday afternoon and evening.

TidesStadiumFloodedWide.jpg“We got about two inches of rain in one hour (Thursday) according to the National Weather Service,” Norfolk general manager Joe Gregory said. “My director of stadium operations walked out there and it was over his ankle. It was above ankle deep all over the field.

“I was a little nervous, didn’t know what we’d be walking into this (Friday) morning. The rain continued at a lighter pace all night. You know our grounds crew was pretty vigilant out there. We aerated not too long ago.”

Gregory was in touch with Orioles officials during the day Friday to update them on the field. It was in much better condition, almost completely dry, by midday Friday and it was near certain that baseball would be able to be played there last night.

It had to be a bit of a helpless feeling for Gregory during the very heavy rains on Thursday as he looked down at the Harbor Park field.

TidesStadiumDryWide.jpg“We were standing on the concourse just watching the field slowly fill up with water,” Gregory said. “There was a time where the only green spot was a patch in center field and then that disappeared.

“It is the most rain my groundskeeper has seen since Hurricane Isabel (in 2003) here. He’s been with the team over 35 years. When you start seeing things like that, it makes you nervous. For a while, it was a worst-case scenario with that amount of rain, but a best-case scenario is how it turned out.”

The Tides split that doubleheader last night and kudos to the grounds crew and staff in Norfolk for taking what looked like a lake and making it a playable baseball field in time for Friday’s games.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore last night, the weather was just fine as the Orioles played their third extra-inning game in the last five games. They’ve won all three and are now 9-3 in extra innings.

Nick Hundley’s RBI single to center ended it in 10 innings as the Orioles beat the Yankees 3-2. It was the O’s seventh walk-off win of the year. They are now 51-41 and lead the American League East by three games over Toronto and five over New York.

They are guaranteed to be atop the division at the All-Star break.

T.J. McFarland pitched the 10th inning, getting three quick outs on nine pitches to get the win. McFarland is proving to be rather versatile. He can pitch in long relief or come on in a tied extra-inning game.

“Yeah, that is how it’s been working out,” McFarland said. “I am kind of prepared anytime the phone rings. Tonight just fortunate to get three outs and our offense won the game. Great game.

“It’s a great feeling. Going into the All-Star break, we want to stay in first place. Any win against New York is huge. We want to finish up this series and come back strong after the All-Star break.”

Hundley is batting .375 during an eight-game hitting streak with three doubles, two homers, eight runs and six RBIs.

He talked about the Orioles pushing the Yankees five games out in the standings.

“It’s big. We have to go win series. Divisional series at home are very crucial. We know that. They’re a very talented team with good arms and a veteran lineup. We have to play well to beat them and we did that tonight,” Hundley said.

The Orioles have now won three of their last four games when they have failed to hit a homer, including last night.

The O’s bullpen has worked 14 1/3 innings over the past four games, allowing just six hits and one run.

Miguel Gonzalez went eight innings for the second start in a row. It was the fourth time in the last 14 games and the eighth time on the year that an O’s starter went eight innings or more.

Chris Tillman has done that four times and Gonzalez twice, while Bud Norris and Ubaldo Jimenez have pitched that deep once each.

In the second game of the series this afternoon at Camden Yards, Chris Tillman (7-4, 4.11 ERA) pitches against right-hander Shane Greene (1-0, 2.84 ERA).

Photos courtesy of Norfolk Tides

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