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Orioles relish, anticipate crowded Camden Yards

Baltimore Orioles fans didn't have the opportunity to watch many important games at Camden Yards from 1998-2011. During the course of those 14 seasons, fans at September games in Baltimore either stayed away or rooted for their team to play the role of spoiler.

That isn't the case this September.

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The Orioles, who clinched their first winning season since 1997 on Sunday, have given their fans reason to go to Camden Yards and support the team.

While the Orioles are on the West Coast playing Seattle right now and headed to Boston Friday for a three-game series, the players took note of the large, loud crowds during their most recent homestand and will likely see more of the same when they return for three games against Toronto and three against the Red Sox next week.

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"It's almost like a college football crowd to be honest with you," Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth said. "It's been neat to experience."

Baltimore's season attendance stands at 1,893,421, higher than the season total of the past two seasons. The Orioles are on pace to eclipse 2,000,000 for the first time since 2007.

In their last seven series at home, the Orioles won five and split the other two. The last time Baltimore lost a home series was when it dropped two out of three against Oakland in late July.

Each game in the four-game series against the New York Yankees from Sept. 6-9 produced more than 40,000 fans, including two sellouts. And unlike previous years, when Yankees fans overran Camden Yards, this time the crowd gave the Orioles a true home-field advantage.

They didn't draw as well for their most recent series, against Tampa Bay, but still did better than usual attendance-wise both because of the team's play and because of "throwback" pricing. Just as in that three-game set, the upcoming home series from Sept. 24-26 against the Blue Jays, Eutaw St. bleacher seats will cost $4 and left field lower box seats will cost $8, the same price as in 1992 when Camden Yards opened.

Baltimore has gone 17-6 at home since the beginning of August, and its 42 home wins this season is the most since winning 44 in 2000.

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said he enjoys having the crowd loud and excited during games, and having the crowd chant, "Man-ny, Man-ny!"

"It's great," Machado said. "The crowds are into the games. To be hearing my name like that and hearing the 'O's', it's just a great feeling inside."

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said that the team has always appreciated its fans and that the recent boost in attendance is just an added bonus.

"We felt that all along," Showalter said. "We always feel playing in our place, whether there's 10,000, 20, 30, our fans always had great emotion about this club and this organization."

Close, exciting games have helped keep the fans energized. The Orioles, who've been the best team in baseball in one-run games and in extra-inning games, won their two most recent home games on walk-off singles by McLouth and Machado.

Showalter said the only way the team can impact the attendance is by playing good baseball that the fans will enjoy.

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"We're doing more things on the field that they like," Showalter said. "That's our responsibility."

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