From 110 losses to 100 wins in two years is pretty remarkable. The Orioles haven't done it yet, but their next win, and they would love for it to come tonight, will put them at 100 wins and also wrap up the American League East championship.
The Orioles have won AL East titles previously in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1997 and 2014.
The last time they won the AL East, it ended a 17-year drought and this time it would be happening nine years later.
It has been a remarkable turnaround and no doubt some around Birdland may have even just about conceded the division to Tampa Bay when the Rays played so well and won so many games early in the year.
But tonight, the O's can become the sixth team in club history with 100 wins and the first since the 2014 team to win the division.
I count five players that played on the team that lost 110 games in 2021 and got 200 or more plate appearances. And five pitchers then, still here now, that pitched 50 or more innings two years ago.
This group of nine includes Ramon Urias, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, John Means, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer and Jorge Lopez.
Earlier this week, Hays talked about being on a 110-game losing team and now one that could win 100.
“This is everything you dream of,” Hays said. “You get to the big leagues and then you try to figure out what you need to do to be on the field and get playing time. Then you kind of learn how to be an everyday player and stick here. Once you have done that, the focus turns to what do I need to do to win? What do we have to do to win?
“So, we were able to last through those 100-loss seasons and kind of just find our way into the big leagues and figure out what we needed to do to stay here. Now we’re a big part of this team and it’s special to still be here going through this. Growing as the players that we have.”
Hays produced his 40th multi-hit game last night as the Orioles beat the Nats 5-1, reducing their magic number to one. Hays was asked if this 2023 season will always stick with him, no matter what happens the next few weeks?
“Yeah, 100 percent," he said. "Going from multiple 100 loss seasons to turning it around in virtually about a half of a season. Last year we started kind of rough and wondered if we are going down the same path again.
“Then last year we really sparked during the summer months, playing such great baseball for those three months. And that was the turning point for this organization. To now be on the cusp of winning 100 games, this season will always be a special one and will always stick with us."
He was honest to admit that there were times during all the losing that he was not sure he would be a part of it when the team was winning again.
“Yeah, you are always unsure if you are going to be a part of that. And if those players (young prospects on the farm) develop quickly, maybe the organization moves on and they are looking at some other outfield prospects they have drafted. Speaking for myself personally, to see the faith that Hyder (Brandon Hyde) and (Mike) Elias have had in me and to see me grow as a player and be an everyday outfielder on a team that has turned it around, it’s a great feeling. Great to know they had that faith in me."
At 99-59, last night's Orioles became the first O's team since 1979 to get to 40 or more games over the .500 mark, as that club finished 102-57. The other O's clubs beyond this one and 1979 to get 40 games over were in 1969, 1970 and 1971.
The Orioles went 4-0 against Washington this year by a combined 11-1 score.
In 23 games in September, Adley Rutschman, who hit a two-run homer and drove in three last night, is batting .287 with a .936 OPS along with nine doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs.
Jorge Mateo stole his 30th base last night becoming the sixth Oriole with two straight years of 30 or more steals. He joined Mullins (2021-22), Brian Roberts (2006-09), Corey Patterson (2006-07), Al Bumbry (1979-80) and Luis Aparicio (1963-64).
Norfolk forces third game: The Triple-A Norfolk Tides beat Durham 7-2 last night to force a third and deciding game tonight in the International League Championship Series. The series is even at a win each.
The Tides will host Game 3 tonight after Kyle Stowers went 3-for-3 last night with a double, triple and homer. He and Coby Mayo hit back-to-back homers in the second inning. Joey Ortiz, out since Sept. 2 with an oblique injury, returned to the lineup and had two hits and three RBIs. Jackson Holliday went 2-for-4 with a walk.
Right-hander Austin Voth pitched four innings of scoreless relief to get the win.
Norfolk last won the IL championship in 1985 as a New York Mets affiliate.