NEW YORK — The Orioles are officially back in the playoffs, going 89-73 and winning the second AL Wild Card spot with a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon.
They’ll now play against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday for a one-game, winner-take-all AL Wild Card game at Rogers Centre, where the Orioles are 4-6 this year.
The winner then heads to Texas for the American League Division Series against the Rangers, which begins Thursday.
Here are some quotes after the Orioles clinched their third playoff appearance in five years:
Orioles manager Buck Showalter on his team that kept fighting: “It’s a chance to roll the dice now. They’ve grinded — not since February, but since the season ended last year. I told them in the last conversation (in 2015), ‘This, too, shall pass.’ The game’s not always fair. This year it was because they got a return for what they put into it. … You look up ‘grind’ in the dictionary, you should have the 2016 Orioles there, because these guys never gave in.”
Showalter on managing this club: “Every year is different. There are so many opportunities that say, ‘This may not work out this year.’ It went by quick for me because this team was involved in the competition right from Day 1 and never really got away from it. You go through periods where you’ve got a chance to win the division, you got a chance to be a wild-card, then you got a chance even not to be in it. You don’t overcome that without having a real strong mentality. So many times we started to say something to these guys, and I just backed off. They got it. Sometimes the best managing you do is the managing you don’t do.”
Showalter on right-hander Kevin Gausman emerging as a force: “He’s had that body language of ‘That guy.’ I say all the time to the minor league guys and scouts, ‘Does he have it? Does he have it?’ And they all know what we’re talking about. He’s graduated to the right part of the process, and he’s been fun to watch. We needed him today, and he delivered.”
Gausman on allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings for the victory: “I don’t think you can describe it. … Once I woke up, I was ready to go. I was locked in knowing what this game meant. I was going to make sure every pitch I threw wasn’t going to be too good (to hit).”
Catcher Matt Wieters, who hit two home runs, on Orioles’ not panicking: “This team is battle tested. We are ready for whatever gets thrown at us. … We have been through it all and now it’s time to enjoy tonight and get ready for the postseason.”
Closer Zach Britton on being a Wild Card team: “Obviously, it’s going to be a little tougher road with the Wild Card game. But, at the same time, if you look at the last couple teams that have been the Wild Card, sometimes it benefits you to get out there and play right away in the postseason. We are a team that gets up with the momentum, and so if we can carry this into the Wild Card game, I think we’ll be in a good spot.”
Britton on Gausman and Wieters: “Kevin Gausman, a young guy in really his first full season, and he’s a really good major league pitcher. And he went out and gave us a shot in the arm when we needed it. And Wiety, come on? A home run from both sides of the plate? He’s been doing a great job behind the plate for us, but it just shows what kind of guys we have. In big moments, they step up to the plate and deliver.”
Executive vice president Dan Duquette on surprising baseball with another playoff run: “Generally, people don’t pick us in the offseason, which is OK by us, but I don’t know what criteria they use. Nobody has picked us to do much and this club always finds a way to compete. … I’m really proud of the team. We’ve been able to establish a winning presence and to go back to the playoffs again and have another shot at it, that’s really what we’ve been working for all year. So now we’ve got a shot to go for the dance.”
Duquette on the team’s success in 2016: “We have good internal leadership. And, really, we’re able to compete because we’ve got those two young kids in the rotation who came through with great talent, right? Bundy and Gausman. And then Mychal Givens emerged and Britton has the great year that he had. And those are all pluses for the organization. Those are players who came through that you couldn’t necessarily count on for the roles that they filled on this team. And then to have the veteran pitchers come around like they have the last month of the season, that gives us a good foundation going into the playoffs.”
Center fielder Adam Jones on his team’s mentality: “We just proved ourselves right. I don’t think we cared about anyone else’s thoughts. We got to play the game no matter what others say. You got to get between the lines, and these men right here showed up every single day. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty; I wasn’t pretty. But at the end of the day we got the job done.”