Phillip Peters/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BALTIMORE — The toughest division in Major League Baseball is officially for the birds.

The Baltimore Orioles, losers of 110 games two years ago, are the American League East Division champions, clinching their first division title since 2014 with a 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer started the shutout, going the first 5 2/3 innings and striking out eight, while Anthony Santander provided the only run Baltimore needed with a solo shot off Boston starter Chris Sale with two outs in the first inning.

Baltimore will be the No. 1 seed in the American League postseason, guaranteeing it home field advantage through at least the ALCS. The win also marked the 100th of the campaign, the first time the Orioles reached the 100-win mark since 1980.

“Honestly, our goal at the beginning of the year was just to play every game to the best of our ability and just see how the results turned out,” All-Star catcher Adley Rutschman said. “It’s tough, because our division is so good, to set our sights on that, because we hadn’t reached that.”

The emotions heading into the final series of the season yesterday were amplified even further by the news of the passing of team legend and Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson at the age of 86 just hours before yesterday’s contest. Tonight, with another baseball legend, Cal Ripken Jr., in attendance, the Orioles took care of business to defy oddsmakers and analytics that projected a regression from their 83-79 season from a year ago that marked their first winning season since their most recent playoff appearance in 2016.

Baltimore’s closest rival this season, the Tampa Bay Rays, started the season 13-0 to set the pace in the division and in baseball, and still managed to play close to .600 baseball after the start. However, the Orioles used a 19-9 start to the season to keep pace with the Rays, and when Baltimore took three out of four in St. Petersburg in a series in late July, the Orioles left with a two-game lead in the division and did not cede their position at the top at any point since then.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s contest, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Phillip Peters. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.

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Tags : Baltimore OriolesBoston Red SoxMajor League BaseballMLB Postseason

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