Led by two homers from catcher Matt Wieters, the O's clinched an American League Wild Card spot with a 5-2 series victory over New York in Sunday's regular-season finale at Yankee Stadium. They will face the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Rogers Centre (watch on TBS, 8 p.m. ET) after Toronto beat Boston.
"They've grinded, not since February, but since the season ended last year. I told them in the last conversation, 'This, too, shall pass.' The game's not always fair. This year it was because they got a return for what they put into it. …You look up 'grind' in the dictionary, you should have the 2016 Orioles there because these guys never gave in."
Wieters struck first on a 3-0 pitch from Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa in the fourth and crushed it for a two-run homer to the second deck in right field. He struck again, from the other side of the plate, off Yankees lefty Tommy Layne in the sixth to make it a 5-1 game. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy got the O's on the board with a third-inning sacrifice fly.
"This is the greatest feeling you can have as a baseball player, celebrating as a team in a clubhouse," Wieters said. "Nothing greater than this."
Mark Teixeira, playing in his final game, was removed from first base in the top of the seventh inning to a standing ovation. Teixeira raised his hat in a salute with his glove hand over his heart as he hugged teammates.
"It was huge. I wanted to make sure that I got to say goodbye and thank you one last time," Teixeira said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more but a win; that would have been nice. But I got a chance to say goodbye, which was very important."
Orioles starter Kevin Gausman went 7 1/3 innings and held the Yankees to just two runs. The righty posted six quality starts in as many tries against New York this season.
This marks the third time in five years Baltimore is postseason bound.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Wieters powers the postseason clincher: The O's catcher, who stopped to admire his first homer for a second as it sailed out to right field, also scored Mark Trumbo on the play to push the lead to three runs. Wieters' second blast gave Baltimore a nice cushion and marked the first time in his career the switch-hitter has homered from both sides of the plate.
"[The 3-0 pitch] was looking for a fastball, was able to get it and get the barrel on it," Wieters said of his first homer. "The one later was a little bit up, I think, and fortunately it was there."
Goodbye Tex: Teixeira, who spent the past eight seasons in New York, gave the crowd a nice send-off. In the first inning, Teixeira got a stadium-wide roll call from the fans, and he brought them to their feet in the second with a fantastic diving stop at first base to rob Wieters of an extra-base hit down the line. Nothing could top his walk-off grand slam against the Red Sox on Wednesday night, but it was still a worthy ending for one of the players who helped bring the Yankees their 27th World Series championship in 2009. More >
"I'm going to miss hitting big home runs and making plays in the field and winning games. I'll miss that," Teixeira said. "I'll always be a Yankee."
Gausman gets it done: The righty continued to dominate New York this season. Gausman allowed just five earned runs in 41 innings against the Yanks (1.10 ERA).
"Knowing that the Jays won last night kind of put a different spin on it, so when I woke up I was ready to go. I wanted the game to start at 12 o'clock," Gausman said. "I was pacing back and forth in here a long time and I wanted the ball today. I think it's even more fun to do it here. They beat us up a lot over the years, way past before my time, so it's good to celebrate here."
Mac hits his milestone: With his leadoff homer in the fourth, Brian McCann reached 20 home runs for the season. In his 11 full Major League seasons, McCann has hit 20-plus homers 10 times, and he's hit the mark in nine straight years. In Major League history, Mike Piazza (11 times), Johnny Bench (11) and Yankees great Yogi Berra (10) are the only other catchers with as many 20-homer seasons as McCann. Gary Sanchez might be the Yankees' starting catcher going forward, as McCann himself acknowledged after Sunday's game, but McCann is still an important part of the Yankees' team going into next season.
"Getting his bat in the lineup, his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, having him catch. He takes a lot of pride in that, and understands how to work young pitchers, old pitchers," Girardi said of McCann. "This is a guy that is in our plans."
"I think the biggest thing is we were in first place for a long time and then to fall out of that and be fighting for our lives for a Wild Card spot just showed the resilience, I thought. I think the biggest thing about coming to the field every day with these guys is that the mindset never changed. It was always the same. Even when we had our struggles. That's the main reason why we were able to fight through it and win on this last day in a game that we needed to." -- Orioles closer Zach Britton
"There were a lot of changes -- I think that's what I'll remember. A lot of guys coming and going. Big-time players retiring. Those are the things that I'm probably going to remember. There are some things I'll remember about certain players. The comeback that CC [Sabathia] had and what he did for us this year. Sanchez bursting onto the scene. But there were a lot of changes here, and that's probably what I'll think about most." -- Girardi, on the Yankees' season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With McCann joining Sanchez in the 20-homer club, the Yankees became just the third team in history to have two players hit at least 20 homers while playing at least half of their games at catcher. The other clubs were the 1965 Braves with Joe Torre (27) and Gene Oliver (21), and the 1961 Yankees with Elston Howard (21) and Johnny Blanchard (21).
The last Oriole to homer from both sides of the plate before Wieters was Roberto Alomar, who did it on July 25, 1996.