The Orioles entered Sunday afternoon’s game with a magic number to clinch a postseason spot of 1. They did even need to wait for their own win to clinch the berth, with the Rangers getting stomped by the Guardians while the O’s ended up going to eleven innings before getting a walkoff. Either one of these things would have been enough to settle it: The Orioles will play in the 2023 playoffs. For the first time since 2016, they’re in.
A division lead of four games only eight days ago has shrunk down to two, with the O’s managing to hold the line as they came back on Sunday and got the walkoff win in extra frames. The Orioles also have the head-to-head tiebreaker in hand. The Rays will need to win two more games than the O’s the rest of the way in order to win the AL East. The Rays play two fewer games than the Orioles do.
The impossible dream from before the season has been clinched, not by the skin of their teeth but handily, with 13 games still to play. Even an optimist could not have predicted a 92-win Orioles team holding the AL East lead after 149 games, with a decent shot to still win the division and a guaranteed postseason bid. It is very likely, though not yet clinched, that the Orioles will at a minimum host a wild card series.
The models came in around 80 wins. The sportsbooks came in at an over/under of 76.5 and even at the All-Star break had only upped that to 90. When I made my prediction on this website, I said 81-81, because I did not imagine so many things going right for these Orioles. What anyone thought or expected would happen from the 2023 Orioles did not matter. They’ve made it into the postseason anyway.
For a team that’s held at least a share of the AL East lead since July 19, merely clinching the third wild card spot is not the most exciting thing to celebrate. Winning the division would be much more fun. For a team that lost 110 games only two years ago, being in the postseason now is amazing. The Mike Elias plan to build a quality baseball team seems to be working.
You can’t win the World Series if you don’t at least make it into the postseason. The Orioles are going to be there to start their journey either on October 3 for the start of the wild card round or on October 7 for the division series. From either of those places, anything could happen. That’s pretty cool.
Looking for some Orioles clinching exuberance? Check out my podcast reaction: