The Orioles have won the AL East for the first time since 1997, beating the Blue Jays 8-2 on Tuesday to put the division out of reach for the second-place Yankees.
Baltimore improved to 91-60, putting the team in position to claim the second seed in the American League and play the Central champs in the ALDS. Overtaking the Angels for the top seed is a possibility, but the Orioles are 3 1/2 games back, pending tonight’s results.
In the 17 years since the Orioles last won the AL East, they went to the postseason just once, losing to the Yankees in the ALDS in 2012. From 1998-2011, they finished higher than fourth just once (third in 2004) and finished with 20 games of the AL East leader just once (13 1/2 games back in 2000).
The Orioles will be gunning for their first World Series trip since 1983, when they topped the Phillies in five games to win the series. Cal Ripken Jr. was the AL MVP that year. Rick Dempsey won World Series MVP honors.
This year’s squad will enter the postseason without three players who projected to be among their most valuable: third baseman Manny Machado, catcher Matt Wieters and first baseman Chris Davis. The first two suffered season-ending injuries, while Davis will have to sit out the first eight games of the postseason after testing positive for Adderall.
What the Orioles do have is their most complete pitching staff in decades, possible home run champ Nelson Cruz and another likely top-10 MVP finisher in Adam Jones. They’ll be viewed as October underdogs because of their lack of star power, but they probably wouldn’t have it any other way.