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.”
Steve Pearce and Jimmy Paredes hit home runs for the Orioles.
Toronto’s Munenori Kawasaki was 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored.
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.
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.”
White Sox 7, Royals 5
In Kansas City, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis both gave up runs for the first time in nearly three months as the Royals’ dominant bullpen was touched up in a loss.
Kansas City’s Norichika Aoki finished 4-for-5 with an RBI.
Rays 6, Yankees 1
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Jake Odorizzi allowed one run and five hits over six innings.
New York’s Ichiro Suzuki finished 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Indians 4, Astros 2
In Houston, Corey Kluber struck out a career-high 14 in seven innings.
Twins 4, Tigers 3
In Minneapolis, Aaron Hicks hit a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning for the Twins.
Mariners 13, Angels 2
In Anaheim, Mike Zunino’s two-run double keyed a four-run fifth inning, and Seattle climbed within a game of the second AL wild-card spot.
Rangers 6, Athletics 3
In Oakland, Scott Kazmir allowed a two-run homer to Jake Smolinski, and shortstop Jed Lowrie made an error that led to a pair of unearned runs.