What night for the Baltimore Orioles. Two years after losing 110 games, the Orioles now sit atop the American League.
The team came into its rubber match against the Boston Red Sox knowing its playoff ticket was already punched. Halfway through, and with a 1-0 lead thanks to Anthony Santander's 28th home run of the season, Baltimore announced its 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 American League East title and its 100th win of the season, but it also secured home-field advantage for the AL 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 inning with men on first and third base by striking out Adam Duvall and getting Alex Verdugo to groundout.
The win also means the Orioles don't have anything left to play for and can take advantage of the time off before they play again in the American League Division Series.
"Nobody gave us a chance at the start of this year. Nobody," manager Brandon Hyde said in the locker room. "That's a 100 wins right there. That's 100 wins and the first step. We just won the AL East."
Considering the Orioles had more seasons with a 100 losses or more (2021, 2019 and 2018) than division title wins (2023 and 2014) in this century, this was a Baltimore team that took many by surprise with its success. But the Orioles draft picks and group of veterans gelled together the last 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 Baltimore has won a 100 or more games, and the first time since 1980 the team pulled the feat off. The Orioles haven't won the pennant or World Series since 1983.
And a member of that team was actually in attendance, as the scoreboard showed Hall of Famer and Orioles' legend Cal Ripken, Jr. at the game.
This was no easy title crown as the Tampa Bay Rays still had a chance to swoop in at the last moment if Baltimore stumbled in any way. When the season began, Tampa Bay initially looked like the early favorite after ripping off 13 consecutive wins to start the year.
The Rays then sat ahead of Baltimore by 6 1/2 games following a May 8 win at Camden Yards. Baltimore remained in striking distance, however, and eventually overtook Tampa Bay right after the All-Star break.
The Orioles never looked back, and now every team in the AL looks up at them.