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Orioles play home games in Florida after riots in Baltimore

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter looked out of place.

It was understandable.

Wearing his home uniform, Showalter took his normal spot in the visiting dugout at Tropicana Field before Friday night's game against Tampa Bay, which the Rays won 2-0 before an announced crowd of 9,945.

But the attire is appropriate this weekend with Baltimore "hosting" the relocated three-game series in Florida.

"We all understand why," Showalter said of shifting the series. "Hopefully it's a positive thing. I hope it's a positive thing when we get home."

The games were moved from Camden Yards to Tropicana Field this week after violence broke out in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody after suffering a spinal cord injury under mysterious circumstances.

After the riots, the Orioles hosted the Chicago White Sox in a game played behind closed doors on Wednesday, no fans were allowed in.

Now, with this series being relocated, Orioles will bat last on the road.

Showalter said after the first pitch, everyone's focus will be on the game.

"White pants, grey pants, it's still baseball between the line," the manager said.

Start times remain the same as were scheduled in Baltimore.

Based on rule 2.00 in the MLB rule book, the home team is the team on whose grounds the game is played, so the statistics from the games will be recorded as home games for the Rays and road for the Orioles.

Tampa Bay will finish the season with 84 home games and the Orioles with 84 on the road, but the attendance figures will reflect home attendance for the Orioles.

"A little unique," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A little more unique when we're managing the game. The guys, they're fine. They understand the situation."

Baltimore infielder Steve Pearce, from nearby Lakeland, Florida., not only is playing the unusual home game, but is making his pro debut at second base.

"It's a lot of stuff," Pearce said. "It's all part of the game."

All tickets are being sold as general admission in the lower level, which holds around 18,000. The Rays have averaged just 17,545 in home attendance this season.

There was a nice gathering of Orioles' fans present, including a group of spring training season ticket holders from Sarasota, Fla., located behind the Baltimore's third-base side dugout.

Walk-up music for batters on both teams was used, while mascots from both teams entertained fans.

The Rays will take batting practice after gates are open. They are normally off the field before fans enter. Because of the flip, Baltimore's pregame workout will be done before fans are let in.

Showalter thanked the Tampa Bay organization for its cooperation not only for baseball, but "our city."

This is the fifth time since 2007 in which the home team batted first, according to STATS.

— July 23, 2013: At San Francisco, the Giants batted first against Cincinnati in Game 2 of a doubleheader, which was a makeup of a game rained out on July 4 in Cincinnati.

— June 24-26, 2011: A three-game series was relocated from Miami to Seattle due to a conflict with a U2 concert.

— June 25-27, 2010: A three-game series was relocated from Toronto to Philadelphia following security concerns with the G20 Summit the same weekend.

— Sep 26, 2007: In Seattle, the Mariners batted first against Cleveland in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The game was a makeup of a rained out game in April in Cleveland.

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