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Orioles fans came up big for Red Sox series

Take a bow, Orioles fans. You deserve it for what you're doing for this team.

The Orioles 6-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday came in front of the most spirited Camden Yards crowd I've seen since the playoff series against the Yankees last fall.

The announced attendance was 41,311, but the noise level made it sound as if 70,000 fans packed the place as the O's took the final game -- and three of four -- from the AL East front-runners.

The Orioles played one of their best all-around games of the season, with key contributions from Chris Davis (major league-leading 23rd homer), Manny Machado (league-leading 32nd double), Nick Markakis (4-for-5 with two outstanding catches in right field), starter Miguel Gonzalez (a quality start for his fifth win) and closer Jim Johnson (league-leading 25th save), so there was plenty for Orioles fans to cheer about.

But both manager Buck Showalter and a couple of players I talked to after the game seemed in awe of the crowd's energy.

Sure, there was the usual large contingent of red-and-blue-clad Boston fans. But the few half-hearted attempts to get Red Sox chants going were quickly and mercilessly drowned out by the cheers of Orioles fans.

Showalter talks often about how tough Sunday day games can be on the players after a night or late-afternoon game the day before. Energy levels are down, guys are grinding and even though we're not even halfway through the season, bumps and bruises and fatigue all become factors as a team gets ready to play.

Showalter isn't one to go all Dr. Phil on you. But he insists that when Camden Yards is loud and rocking, his players get an instant emotional and physical lift that leads directly to better performances -- and eventually to wins.

He's pointed this out on a number of occasions over the past two years. And he made a point of mentioning the crowd's exhuberance again yesterday in his post-game remarks without the subject even being broached by reporters.

It's great to see the crowds back at Camden Yards, that's for sure.

There were two crowds of 40,000 or more for this recent four-game series against Boston. And the O's have already had seven crowds of 40,000 or more this season, with three sellouts.

Attendance is up an average of 3,000 fans per game, and that figures to pick up even more now that school is out and the Orioles are playing some of their best ball of the season.

No question, Camden Yards is the place to be again for Orioles fans. And no one's loving that more right now than Showalter and his players.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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