- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

BALTIMORE With the cleanup of Wednesday's train derailment near Camden Yards still under way, the Baltimore Orioles were forced to postpone yesterday's day-night doubleheader against the Texas Rangers without knowing exactly when officials will determine that it is safe to return to the playing field.

The Orioles and Rangers managed to get in just one of their three scheduled games over the past two days, with Texas taking Wednesday afternoon's opener 6-4 before a 60-car CSX freight train derailed inside a tunnel adjacent to the B&O; Warehouse, sending black smoke billowing out toward the southeast corner of the ballpark. About 90 minutes before the scheduled start of the night game, officials called for a full evacuation of the stadium area, leaving players, workers and media members scrambling to get out.

Firefighters continued to work at containing the blaze yesterday while being careful not to allow any of the hazardous materials aboard the train, including hydrochloric acid, to become exposed to the outside air.

Though the team's warehouse offices were reopened yesterday and no immediate danger was apparent in the ballpark, the Baltimore City Fire Department decided to call off both games in case the situation worsened and the area had to be evacuated again.

"There's been no problem to this point," Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said. "But the last thing anybody wants is to have a ballpark full of people and have some sort of hazardous spill."

Yesterday's first game, scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m., was called off in the morning. The second game, scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m., was postponed around 2 p.m.

No makeup dates have been set for either game, and because the Rangers have no more scheduled trips to Baltimore the most likely scenario would have Texas making a one-day trip back to the East Coast for another doubleheader. The two teams have three common off days: Aug. 13, Aug. 27 and Sept. 17.

The Orioles will be home preceding each of those off days. The Rangers will be home for the first two, with an off day scheduled before they travel to Minnesota and Cleveland.

The open date in September seems an unlikely option because Texas would have to fly cross-country from Seattle for just one day before returning home.

While neither team figures to be in a playoff race, rendering those two games virtually meaningless, it's unlikely the postponed games won't be made up. Such a scenario reportedly would cost the Orioles $3 million in lost revenue.

As of yesterday, it was still uncertain when fire officials would deem the Camden Yards area safe enough to play a game. The Anaheim Angels are scheduled to visit for a four-game series, but the status of tonight's 7:05 contest likely won't be determined until this afternoon.

"What we've been told is, we're in a day-to-day situation," Stetka said.

If tonight's game does take place as scheduled, Orioles rookie right-hander Josh Towers who was supposed to pitch Wednesday's evening game against Texas will start against Anaheim's Ramon Ortiz.

Fans who held tickets to any of the postponed games are urged to hold them as rain checks until a makeup date is announced. However, they may exchange the tickets for any remaining Monday through Thursday home game during the rest of the season, subject to availability.

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