Baseball Hall of Famer and longtime Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. poses with a statue of himself at its unveiling at Camden Yards. (Nick Wass/AP)

— The Baltimore Orioles returned to Camden Yards from their road trip unsure of the reception they’d receive for this weekend’s critical four-game series against the division-leading New York Yankees.

Returning home for arguably the most important homestand in 15 years, the Orioles were welcomed Thursday night by a sea of orange.

Fourteen years of disappointment turned into decibels of excitement during a thrilling 10-6 victory that pulled the O’s back into a tie for first place in the American League East.

Camden Yards 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.”

Skeptics had said that the Orioles’ string of 14 straight losing seasons has forever lost some of the fans that rooted for the legends like Ripken. But the sellout crowd of 46,298 on Thursday also came to take part in the Orioles’ surprising resurgence, adding their share to a playoff atmosphere.

Come game time, the Orioles rewarded them, belting out a season-high six homers.

With 25 games remaining in the regular season, the Orioles (77-60) are not only tied with the Yankees, but they’ve also won six of last eight games against New York.

Their six homers were the most in a game in more than five years. Mark Reynolds hit two, and now has hit eight in his past seven games.

— Baltimore Sun