Orioles grab playoff spot; Wieters, Gausman help beat Yanks
NEW YORK (AP) — Buck Showalter was standing in his office at Yankee Stadium when Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter popped in and grabbed the manager’s arm, nudging him toward the thumping party in the clubhouse across the hall.
And when Showalter emerged through the protective plastic sheets hanging above the entryway, his players roared and doused him in bubbly.
Thanks to a victory in their regular-season finale, the power-hitting Orioles are on to the playoffs.
Matt Wieters homered from both sides of the plate, Kevin Gausman gave Baltimore a clutch pitching performance and Baltimore snagged an AL wild card by beating the New York Yankees 5-2 Sunday.
“It never really got away from us,” Showalter said. “You go through periods when you’re like, you’ve got a chance to win a division, you’ve got a chance to be a wild card, then you’ve got a chance to not even be in it. And you don’t overcome that without having a real strong mentality.”
Baltimore will play Tuesday night at AL East rival Toronto for a chance to face AL West champion Texas in a best-of-five Division Series.
“All we asked for is an opportunity, and right now, we have an opportunity. So, let’s celebrate and enjoy this and get back to work,” outfielder Adam Jones said.
Zach Britton got five outs in a non-save situation and finished perfect in 47 save chances this year with a 0.54 ERA. Wieters had four RBIs and Gausman (9-12) was charged with two runs in 7 1/3 innings as the Orioles — who led the majors by a wide margin with 253 home runs — closed with their seventh victory in nine games to reach the postseason for the third time in five years.
They’re looking for their first World Series championship since 1983.
“You just roll the dice and see if you can knock on the door and break through this time,” said Dan Duquette, executive vice president of baseball operations.
Baltimore (89-73) barely celebrated on the field after Britton struck out Brett Gardner to end it. Several players hugged each other behind the mound, but others simply walked out of the dugout and formed the customary handshake line.
Back in their raucous clubhouse, however, the Orioles let loose. They sprayed beer and champagne, joining the AL East champion Red Sox as opponents who celebrated in the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium within the past five days.
“I think it’s even more fun to do it here,” Gausman said. “They beat us up a lot over the years, way past before my time, so it’s good to celebrate here.”
In his final game before retiring, New York slugger Mark Teixeira went 0 for 3 and showed off his Gold Glove form with a couple of slick plays at first base. Honored during a 12-minute ceremony and feted with several gifts before the game, he was removed with one out in the top of the seventh inning so he could soak up the cheers while he walked off the field, fully composed as he hugged his teammates one at a time.
“Mentally and emotionally, I kind of prepared for it,” Teixeira said. “It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be.”
Baltimore squandered a three-run lead Saturday in a 7-3 loss to the Yankees that made its playoff prospects more complicated. But the Orioles got help that night when Detroit and Seattle were beaten, so they knew when they arrived at Yankee Stadium on Sunday that all they needed was a win to get in.
“When I woke up, I was ready to go,” Gausman said. “I wanted the game to start at 12 o’clock. I was pacing back and forth in here a long time and I wanted the ball today.”
Jonathan Schoop, who started every game this season, reached on a pop-fly double leading off the third and put Baltimore ahead when he scored on J.J. Hardy’s sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Wieters was batting left-handed when he hit a two-run homer into the second deck in right field on a 3-0 pitch from Luis Cessa (4-4). That came one batter after Mark Trumbo reached on an infield single when Teixeira failed to scoop third baseman Ronald Torreyes’ short-hop throw.
Manny Machado singled in the sixth and Wieters, batting right-handed, greeted lefty reliever Tommy Layne with another two-run drive just inside the left-field foul pole.
Brian McCann went deep for the fourth-place Yankees (84-78), reaching 20 homers for the ninth consecutive season and 10th time overall.
Didi Gregorius had an RBI single off Britton with two outs in the eighth before first baseman Chris Davis grabbed Aaron Hicks’ sharp grounder with two on to end the inning.
The Orioles went 9-10 against the Blue Jays (89-73) this season. They were 4-5 in Toronto, but took two of three crucial games there just last week. “We won five straight series on the road at the end of the year. That is a very, very hard thing to do,” Jones said.
Wieters became the first Orioles player to homer from both sides since Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar against Cleveland on July 25, 1996. … Wieters has seven career multihomer games, three this season.
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY
Gausman was 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA in six starts against the Yankees this year.
LET THE RECORD SHOW
Teixeira finished with the same amount of hits as games played (1,862). He batted .268 with 409 home runs and 1,298 RBIs.
Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.77 ERA) figures to start the wild-card game, but Showalter did not announce his plans.
Yankees: Play their season opener next year April 2 at Tampa Bay.