The drought is over! O’s clinch first playoff berth since 2016.
Rejoice, Balitmore fans! Your 2023 Baltimore Orioles will play meaningful October baseball for the first time in 7 years. Earlier today, the Orioles and Rays were in a dog fight for the AL East lead. While the game was going on, word came out that the Cleveland Guardians defeated the Texas Rangers 9-1. Cleveland’s victory clinched a playoff spot for the Orioles. It ended up not mattering though, as the Orioles stormed back to win in the 11th inning 5-4.
When the game reached the 8th inning, the Orioles found themselves tied with the Tampa Bay Rays 1-1. The Rays were then able to hit back-to-back home runs against reliever Jorge Lopez. Down by 2 with one out to spare, the Orioles turned to young catcher Adley Rutschman. Adley worked the count, and did the unthinkable: he hit a solo shot to cut the deficit to 1. Adam Frazier brought in Jorge Mateo to tie it at 3, and we were headed to extras. Both teams scored in the tenth to knot the score at 4. Adley found himself at second to start the eleventh, and an unlikely hero started the rally.
Ryan O’Hearn came through, but not how you’d expect. O’Hearn laid down his first career sacrifice bunt to advance Rutschman to third. Cedric Mullins came through in the clutch and brought Adley in on a sacrifice fly. Ballgame over.
Cedric Mullins (along with John Means, Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays) is one of the few players that were with the club before Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde. It’s fitting for him to deliver the winning run.
Today’s victory widened the division lead back to 2 games, which is where it was before this series started. After dropping the first two games and losing four in a row, the Orioles still lead the Rays by two and control their own destiny. They’ll be in the playoffs, and their magic number for the division is 10.