Nick Markakis shines, despite complications of the large crowds at Camden Yards

The Baltimore Sun

When the ball flies off the bat, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis is often used to seeing it distinctly outlined against a backdrop of green seats up the third base line.

In the Orioles’ four-game series against the Boston Red Sox this weekend, the ball would disappear as it traveled through orange, white, black, red and navy blue filling those seats at Camden Yards.

“[Markakis] said there's a lot of orange,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He said he's used to having that good, green background. He said, 'That's a good thing, right?' And I said, 'Yep, that's a good thing.'”

Having Markakis in the lineup proved to be a good thing, too, as he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three runs in the Orioles' 6-3 victory. It was Markakis' 24th multi-hit game and second four-hit game of the year.

His defense also stood out.

In the eighth inning, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz lofted a shallow line drive straight at Markakis, who took a few steps in, hesitated and then caught the ball as he fell to the grass.

“It’s tough, especially with a packed house,” Markakis said. “You don’t have the background and especially line drives right at you. Those are the hardest. Those are the hardest to judge especially with a guy, Ortiz up there, the way he’s capable of hitting the ball. I didn’t pick it up right on the bat. I eventually saw it. It was right at me. It just ended up in my glove.”

One batter later, Markakis made a running catch on Jonny Gomes’ fly out to end the eighth inning. A 2011 Gold Glove winner, Markakis hasn’t made an error this season and has committed just five since the start of 2010. This week he moved into the third spot among AL outfielders in the All-Star voting, putting him on pace to be selected for his first midsummer classic.

"It's an honor to watch him play,” Showalter said. “He gets it."”

Showalter was one of many who watched Markakis this weekend.

Camden Yards hosted two crowds of more than 40,000 fans in a series for first time since the Orioles played the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-April, the Boston series and averaged 35,747 fans for the four-game set. Take out Thursday night’s attendance of 20,098, and the Orioles had their second-highest weekend average with 40,964 fans per game. They averaged 41,459 against the Detroit Tigers May 31-June 2, which was bolstered by a Friday sellout.

At least 40,000 fans have attended Camden Yards seven times this season, and the stadium has sold out three times. Average attendance this season is 28,819. It was 25,954 last season.

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