The Baltimore Orioles' painful rebuild has finally borne some tangible fruit. On Sunday, the Orioles officially clinched a place in the 2023 MLB postseason by virtue of a pivotal 5-4 win over AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays, which gave them a two-game cushion as well in the division race. And they managed to get that victory in such enthralling fashion, walking off the Rays with a huge sacrifice fly from Cedric Mullins.
This is nothing short of a huge achievement for a team that lost 110 games as recently as two seasons ago, and a validation of the front office's focus towards handing over the keys to the franchise to their talented youngsters. So it's no surprise to see the entire Orioles locker room be in a mood of celebration, since this feels like a culmination of all their hard work leading up to this point.
“It's not easy. The way we're celebrating right now kind of shows just how difficult it is to get to this point,” Mullins said, per ESPN.
Cedric Mullins, in particular, will be cherishing this achievement given how much he and the Orioles have needed to overcome to reach the playoffs this season. Mullins was there for the team during its darkest days; he played a bit role on the Orioles team that lost 115 games in 2018, he picked up down ballot MVP votes during his stellar 2021 campaign amid yet another 110+ loss season, and now, here he is, fittingly sealing their fate as a playoff-bound team.
Nevertheless, veteran second baseman Adam Frazier knows the job is far from finished. Getting to the postseason, of course, is something worth celebrating, but Frazier knows that the Orioles have their sights set on something far greater than a 2023 playoffs participation trophy.
“That’s what you play for. You’re trying to go to the playoffs, win a World Series. Pretty excited to make it to the playoffs, but we know the job’s not done. We’ve got a division we’re chasing after,” Frazier said, per Nathan Ruiz of The Baltimore Sun.
The Orioles will have a tough test ahead of them as they enter a three-game set against reigning champion Houston Astros later tonight.