BALTIMORE–Brandon Hyde stood in the Orioles’ clubhouse and yelled: “Nobody gave us a chance at the start of this year. Nobody. That’s 100 wins right there, 100 wins. We just won the AL East!”
The Orioles’ manager spent time with each player on the field after they clinched their first AL East title since 2014.
“We won 83 games last year. That was the message in spring training this year. We’re going to build off this 83,” Hyde said. “We’re not surprising teams anymore. People know how talented we are. Nobody was giving us a chance to win. It was in every publication everywhere, we were going to regress, and I wanted our guys to know that. They took it personal, and we just won 100 in the AL East.”
The 100th win was a 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night at Camden Yards.
“I wouldn’t have thought we were going to win 100 before the year, but I knew we were a good club,” Hyde said. “As the year goes along, and we’re piling up wins and winning a ton of series, it wasn’t impossible for us to do that.”
Eleven days before, the Orioles celebrated their first playoff berth with a wild clubhouse scene with champagne, beer and cigars. They did all that again, but this one seemed a little tamer.
“This one’s sweeter,” outfielder Austin Hays said. “That one we knew we had more to push for, but this was what we were pushing for for the regular season, and now we know where we’re headed in the postseason.”
Ten days from now, the Orioles will host the American League Division Series. They’ll have more believers than they had six months ago when the regular season began.
“Nobody outside of this clubhouse thought we could do it, but this clubhouse knew we could,” Hays said.
“Winning the division is always huge,” centerfielder Cedric Mullins said. “It’s no easy feat regardless of where you’re at. It’s something we’re going to take a lot of pride in doing,”
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias hired Hyde in December 2018, and the conventional wisdom was that Hyde was a caretaker, and that once the Orioles got better, a more experienced manager would take over.
“I realized this is one of the best managerial, I don’t know if prospect is the word, but talent that I’ve seen in my experience and I’m not going to throw that away just because we’re losing games,” Elias said. “He had nothing to do with it … I could tell he was pushing the right buttons even though it was often backfiring when we had different players, but once we got major league talent up here, the moves fell into place.”
Hyde remembers the interview process, but it was still difficult in 2021 when the Orioles had two separate losing streaks of 14 and 19 games.
“I’m not hiring you to replace you when we get more talented,'” Hyde said Elias told him. “And he held true to that. He was way more patient in those first few years than I was. It was hard. I took losses hard. I knew we weren’t as talented as other teams.
“It beats you up. Mike showed great patience, and understood the plan was in place and he drafted extremely well and got more talent in his organization like he said he was going to, and you’re seeing it now.”
On August 25th, Félix Bautista, the best closer in baseball, suffered an ulnar collateral ligament injury, and hasn’t pitched since, but the Orioles have gone 20-11 since then
“We play a lot of close games. I wish we could win 8-1 one time, but it doesn’t happen very often,” Hyde said.
After the third inning, Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos and Maryland Governor Wes Moore appeared on the scoreboard and a 30-year lease extension was announced.
“I missed it, but I’m happy,” Hyde said.
“I’m sorry I missed it. Unfortunately, I had some things going on that I was looking at, but I am very happy that that’s being settled and that the Orioles are here for a long time,” Hyde said. “I don’t know a ton about it, to be honest with you. I’m just trying to win every single night with the guys I’ve got. I’m very happy if everybody else is happy. I’m glad.”
Note: Norfolk defeated Durham, 7-0, to win the International League championship series two games to one. Cade Povich pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits. Kyle Dowdy, Wandisson Charles and Nick Vespi combined for five hitless innings in relief. Third baseman Coby Mayo had four hits and four RBIs, including a two-run home run. Shortstop Jackson Holliday hit a home run. The Tides play Oklahoma City on Saturday at 10 p.m. for the Triple-A championship.