After 14 years of losing, you knew it wasn't going to be easy.
The champagne was chilling in the Orioles' clubhouse. The plastic covering the lockers was in place. Even the media broke out rain gear because we dress too stylishly in our drab polos and relaxed-fit jeans to get splashed on.
- Thoughts from Showalter, Duquette on playoff berth
- Johnson reaches 50-save milestone in win over Sox
- Adam Jones named MVO for second straight year
- Orioles in March and April 2014 [Pictures]
- Orioles' 2014 player salaries
- Orioles Prospect Watch 2014
See more photos »
MARC Train Camden Station, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
“Everything was ready to roll in here,” first baseman Mark Reynolds said.
But ultimately the sweet spray of bubbly was put on hold because 1,300 miles away in Arlington, Texas, the Los Angeles Angels beat the Rangers in the first game of a double-header to keep their faint playoff hopes alive and keep the Orioles from celebrating just yet.
Not until Sunday night, after they had left for Tampa for their final three games, would the Orioles learn they'd finally be playing postseason baseball for the first time since 1997, helped by an 8-7 Rangers win in the nightcap that eliminated the Angels for good.
What a turnaround. What a season.
Enjoy it, Baltimore. It's a sweet moment. And you deserve it.
Still, how wonderfully surreal was that scene at Camden Yards on Sunday after the Orioles 92rd win of this wild season?
Then they stood as a group along the first-base line, anxiously watching the end of the Angels-Rangers game on the video scoreboard to see if the champagne would flow.
Watching along with them was most of the announced crowd of 41,257, on its feet and whooping and cheering with every pitch.
But when Torii Hunter lined a two-run double with two out and two on against Rangers closer Joe Nathan for a 5-4 Angels lead — a lead that would ultimately hold up for the win — a collective groan went up from the crowd.
And with that, the Orioles turned and quietly filed into their dugout as Camden Yards quickly emptied.
“I wouldn't say it was disappointing,” said sizzling right fielder Chris Davis, who went 2-for-3 and clubbed his 31st homer in the fifth for a 6-1 lead. “You want to [clinch] at home in front of the fans. But at the same time, they're going to be happy either way, whether it's on the road or at home.
“We would have liked to win it here. I think it would have been a little more fun. But at the same time, I think they just want to see a postseason berth and a division title.”
They're tied with the Yankees at the top of the division standings after New York roared back Sunda from three runs down in the seventh inning to beat Toronto 9-6.
“Our goal now is to try to figure out a way to play some more baseball games here at Camden [Yards],” manager Buck Showalter said. “Hopefully, it's ‘See you later.'”
It sure helped that the opponent Sunday was the Red Sox, who have all but mailed it in for months and seem intent on blowing up the team that collapsed late last season amid stories of clubhouse beer guzzling and chicken eating during games.