Adam Jones often wondered just how deafening Camden Yards got back when the Orioles were competing for division titles years ago.
The Orioles center fielder usually turned to head trainer Richie Bancells, who has been with the team for nearly three decades, and asked, “How loud can this place get?”
In the eighth inning of a tie game Thursday night — in front of a sellout crowd of 46,298 at Camden Yards — Jones hit the biggest home run of his career, a shot to left that led the Orioles to an another resilient, 10-6, win over the New York Yankees.
“After I hit that home run,” Jones said, “[Bancells] came up to me and said, ‘That's how loud this place can get.'
“Honestly, this is what the 90s must have been like here.”
Jones' 28th homer was one of the Orioles' season-high six home runs on the night, including three in the bottom of the eighth after the O's blew a five-run lead in the top half of that inning. The win pulled the Orioles even with New York atop the American League East standings.
With 25 games remaining in the regular season, the Orioles (77-60) are not only tied with the Yankees, but they've won six of last eight games against New York.
Their six homers were the most in a game for the Orioles in more than five years, and the final three allowed them to survive the bullpen collapse.
“It's one of those things, what are you going to do?” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Are you going to bleed or do something about it? I think everybody in the dugout knew [the Yankees] were going to make a run at us. It was just kind of how you respond to it. I was real proud of them.”
Showalter also noted that he “really liked the look in our guys' eyes from the time the game started.”
The Orioles returned to Camden Yards from their road trip unsure of the reception they'd receive for this critical four-game series. Starting arguably the most important homestand in 15 years, the Orioles were welcomed by a sea of orange.
Fourteen years of disappointment turned into decibels of excitement. The game was already nearly sold out because of the pregame Cal Ripken Jr. sculpture unveiling, 17 years to the day that Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak.
“I may also add,” Ripken said during his speech, “being an Oriole is about playing meaningful games in September.”
The current Orioles took it from there. And when Jones took a 1-2 cutter from Yankees reliever Dave Robertson (1-6) into the left-field seats to give the Orioles a 7-6 lead, Camden Yards rocked.
Eighteen of Jones' 28 homers have either tied the game of given the Orioles the lead. Jones called that one the biggest hit of his career, and the win the most important since he's been an Oriole.
“The biggest hit I've ever had, and hopefully I can have one later this month that's even bigger,” Jones said.
Sizzling first baseman Mark Reynolds added a two-run homer two batters later, his second home run of the night. Reynolds, who now has 20 homers on the season, has eight homers in his last seven games, including three two-homer games in that span.
Chris Davis followed Reynolds' second blast by taking the first pitch he saw from lefty Boone Logan to right field for his 24th homer of the season.
Catcher Matt Wieters' opposite-field three-run home run in the first capped a four-run inning off Yankees right-hander David Phelps.
Robert Andino hit his first homer since July 14 in the fourth, a solo shot off Phelps. Reynolds added a solo homer in the sixth inning.
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Making his first start since July 13 after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Jason Hammel held the Yankees to one run on six hits over five innings, striking out six and walking two.
Hammel attacked the Yankees' batting order, throwing 17 of 21 first-pitch strikes, but he suffered a scare when Robinson Cano's comebacker hit off his right elbow in the fourth inning. Hammel remained in the game, a visible bruise on his elbow, and Cano eventually scored the Yankees' only run off the right-hander.
Orioles set-up man Pedro Strop couldn't hold a late-inning lead for the second time against the Yankees this week. He came on with two on and two out in the eighth inning but failed to get out of the inning, allowing both inherited runners and three others to score. Strop also allowed two inherited runners to score in a 4-3 loss to the Yankees on Saturday in the Bronx.
But all was forgotten after the Orioles' eighth-inning homer flurry, allowing Jim Johnson to close out the ninth in a non-save situation.
“I figure on Cal Ripken statue night we can't lose right?” Hammel said. “That's not allowed. So the baseball gods might have had a part in it.”