Orioles closer Zach Britton struck out Brett Gardner around 5:40 p.m Sunday evening, catcher Matt Wieters pumped his fist and the two shook hands.
And these up-and-down, shake-your-head, collapse-and-surge Orioles are going to the playoffs.
Typical of their year, the Orioles refused to make the path an easy one, finally wrapping up a playoff spot in Game 162 with a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees.
Wieters, who is a pending free agent and may have played his regular season game for the Orioles, hit two, two-run homers to help secure the victory. The switch-hitter became the first Oriole since Roberto Alomar in 1996 to home from both sides of the plate in one game.
Finishing with an 89-73 record, this is the third time in the past five seasons that these Orioles have made the postseason, also getting there as the AL Wild Card in 2012 and as the AL East winner in 2014. They reached the ALCS in 2014, but haven’t been to the World Series since winning it all in 1983.
As the Orioles clinched, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox were tied at 1-1. They were holding out hope that the Red Sox would beat the Blue Jays, which would mean the Orioles would host the Wild Card at Camden Yards. But Toronto closed out a 2-1 victory over Boston, which sends the Orioles to Rogers Centre to play the Wild Card game on Tuesday.
Toronto has beaten the Orioles 10 of 19 times this season, and six out of 10 times at Rogers Centre.
The Orioles clinched the postseason berth thanks to another excellent performance by starter Kevin Gausman, who is 6-3 with a 1.92 ERA in 17 games versus the Yankees in his career. He’s been even better this year – a 1.10 ERA and six quality starts in six outings.
He allowed just two earned runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. One of the runs was allowed by Britton, who entered in the eighth in a non-save situation.