What a night for the Baltimore Orioles. Two years after losing 110 games, the Orioles sit atop the American League.
The team came into its rubber match with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday knowing its playoff ticket was already punched. Midway through, and with a 1-0 lead thanks to Anthony Santander's 28th home run of the season, Baltimore announced a new deal to stay at Camden Yards another 30 years.
By game's end, the Orioles beat the Red Sox 2-0 and were jumping up and down on the field celebrating. Not only did Baltimore clinch the AL East title and its 100th win of the season, but it also secured the AL's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the pennant race.
In 5 1/3 innings, Dean Kremer (13-5) finished with eight strikeouts and allowed only two hits and a walk. DL Hall got the team out of a little trouble in the sixth, with men on first and third base, by striking out Adam Duvall and getting Alex Verdugo to ground out.
The win means the Orioles don't have anything left to play for and can take advantage of the time off before they play in the American League Division Series beginning Oct. 7.
"Nobody gave us a chance at the start of this year. Nobody," manager Brandon Hyde said in the locker room. "That's 100 wins right there. That's 100 wins and the first step. We just won the AL East."
Considering that the Orioles have more seasons with 100-plus losses (2021, 2019 and 2018) than division titles (2014) this century, this Baltimore team took many by surprise with its success. But the Orioles' recent draft picks and group of veterans jelled the past two seasons to create this result.
Baltimore hasn't been swept in a series since May 2022. This is only the sixth time in franchise history that the team has won 100 or more games, and it's the first time since 1980 that the team pulled off the feat. The Orioles haven't won the AL pennant or World Series since 1983.
And a member of that team was actually in attendance Thursday, as the scoreboard showed Hall of Famer and Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. at the game.
This was no easy division crown, either, as the Tampa Bay Rays still had a chance to swoop in if Baltimore stumbled. When the season began, Tampa Bay looked like the early favorite after ripping off 13 consecutive wins to start the year.
The Rays sat ahead of Baltimore by 6.5 games following a May 8 win at Camden Yards. Baltimore remained in striking distance, however, and overtook Tampa Bay right after the All-Star break.
The Orioles never looked back, and now every team in the AL is looking up at them.