Members of the Baltimore Orioles pour beer and champagne on manager Buck Showalter after a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays can’t stop Orioles from clinching division title

Champagne was spraying all around him, and Dan Duquette couldn’t help but laugh at the mayhem he helped create. The Orioles clinched their first AL East title since 1997 by beating Toronto 8-2 Tuesday night, and Duquette was right in the middle of a long overdue celebration in the Baltimore clubhouse.

BALTIMORE — Champagne was spraying all around him, and Dan Duquette couldn’t help but laugh at the mayhem he helped create.

The Orioles clinched their first AL East title since 1997 by beating Toronto 8-2 Tuesday night, and Duquette was right in the middle of a long overdue celebration in the Baltimore clubhouse.

“The guys are having a great time, and they earned it,” said Duquette, the team’s executive vice-president of baseball operations. “We’ve got some more work to do, and these guys know it, but congratulations to them on the division crown. They did a great job.”

With their ninth win in 10 games, the Orioles clinched their second playoff appearance in three years following a run of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

After the final out, the Orioles converged behind second base. Fireworks soared in the outfield, while streamers and confetti sprayed throughout the boisterous crowd of 35,279.

The party continued in the clubhouse, where players wore goggles and smiles while covered in champagne and beer.

“It’s everything I hoped for, man. It’s an awesome experience,” said right fielder Nick Markakis, who experienced six of those losing seasons. “We worked hard all season long to get where we are now. We got one step out of the way. Now we have a couple more steps to go.”

It was Baltimore’s ninth AL East title, but only its second since 1983, when the Orioles last won the World Series.

The franchise has enjoyed a rebirth under the guidance of manager Buck Showalter, whose 1,254th victory thrust him past mentor Billy Martin into sole possession of 36th place on the career list.

“There’s probably not a better strategy guy in the game,” reliever Darren O’Day said. “He sees things days in advance. He put guys in opportunities to succeed. It was pretty special.”

Baltimore is 42-23 in a division that includes the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, the free-spending New York Yankees and pitching-rich Tampa Bay. The Orioles led by only four games on Aug. 6 before going on a 27-11 run.

“We’re AL East champs,” Steve Pearce said in the midst of the drenched clubhouse.

“Awesome.”

The clinching victory featured an unlikely list of contributors, not at all unusual for a team that often delved deep into its 25-man roster.

Ubaldo Jimenez was making his first start in a month; Pearce has morphed from a bit player to a key starter; and Jimmy Paredes didn’t join the team until Aug. 28.

Pearce provided the Orioles with the lead for good with a three-run drive off Drew Hutchison (10-12) in the first inning.

He has 18 home runs this year, one more than he had in 290 games as a part-timer from 2007-13.

Paredes hit a solo shot in the second to make it 4-2. It was his second homer in 10 games with Baltimore.

In addition, newcomer Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run triple in the seventh for a 7-2 lead. De Aza came to the Orioles in an Aug. 30 trade with the Chicago White Sox.

“It says a lot about the way these guys can come in and perform,” Duquette said. “They’re good baseball players.”

Jimenez (5-9) survived a rocky start to limit the Blue Jays to two runs and two hits over five innings in his third start since July 5.

After signing a $50 million, four-year deal in the off-season, Jimenez struggled with his control for much of the season, sprained his ankle in a parking lot before the All-Star break and ultimately lost his place in the rotation.

Pressed into service because the Orioles played a doubleheader Friday, Jimenez issued four walks in the first two innings. But he bounced back to retire his last 10 batters.

“I had to find a way to be there for the team,” Jimenez said. “After the start, I was able to do everything good.”

In the other clubhouse, the Blue Jays bemoaned their role at the catalyst to the celebration.

“Watching what we had to watch was probably the worst thing you can experience as a player,” Hutchison said. “It’s something you never want to have to experience again. We have some games left here. We know what the odds are. We just have to win as much as we can. We still have a lot to play for with our pride.”

Bud Norris (13-8) brings a 7-1 record against AL East foes into a matchup with Toronto lefty J.A. Happ in the series finale tonight.

Just Posted

Red Deer church donates to Safe Harbour

It was all about helping those in need at Safe Harbour in… Continue reading

Former firefighter with PTSD sues Syncrude over suspended benefits, dismissal

CALGARY — A lawsuit filed by a former firefighter and paramedic against… Continue reading

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

HALIFAX — Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi may have hoped to quietly disappear from… Continue reading

Democrats aren’t buying Trump’s shutdown-ending ‘compromise’

WASHINGTON — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald… Continue reading

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Curtain rising Sunday night on total lunar eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The celestial curtain will be rising soon on… Continue reading

At 30-day mark, shutdown logjam remains over border funding

WASHINGTON — Thirty days into the partial government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans… Continue reading

Holocaust victims buried after remains found in UK museum

LONDON — The remains of six unidentified Holocaust victims were buried in… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘So what’ if Trump and Cohen discussed testimony

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani left open Sunday the… Continue reading

Photos: Rocks fly at 37th Annual Oilmen’s Bonspiel

Twenty-nine teams gathered at the Pidherney Curling Centre in Red Deer for… Continue reading

Death toll reaches 79 in Mexico fuel pipeline fire horror

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — People in the town where a gasoline explosion killed… Continue reading

With Trump out, Davos chief eyes fixing world architecture

DAVOS, Switzerland — The founder of the World Economic Forum says U.S.… Continue reading

Mexican pipeline explosion kills 71, leaves nightmare of ash

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — Gerardo Perez returned Saturday to the scorched field in… Continue reading

Most Read