NEW YORK -- This was the way they wanted it. Not to back in, not to hope and pray and depend on an opponent's loss or a tiebreaker. This Orioles team had a chance Sunday to punch its own ticket and it did just that, clinching an American League Wild Card spot with a 5-2 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
In doing so, the O's, who will face Toronto at Rogers Centre for Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game (watch on TBS, 8 p.m. ET), proved wrong those who doubted them and couldn't understand how this team just kept winning.
"We just proved ourselves right," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who sported a postseason T-shirt, goggles and a bottle of champagne in one arm. "I don't think we cared about anyone else's thoughts, we've got to play the game no matter what others say. You got to get between the lines, and these men right here showed up every single day. Sometimes it wasn't pretty, I wasn't pretty. But at the end of the day we got the job done."
And for the third time in five years, the Orioles are in the postseason.
"It's a chance to roll the dice now," said manager Buck Showalter.
"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."
Baltimore, which embarked on a tough two-city trip to close the year, again showed its moxie in the season's final week. The Orioles went into Toronto and took two of three games, and followed that up with a series win in New York. They hadn't won a series in either city this season up until that point.
"These guys, they grind it out every day. They're there taking care of business," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "It's a hard-working club. They knew at the start of the road trip what the job was, and we played good defense all year. … We've got some good talent, and I'm really proud of how they work. Our leadership is steady."
The O's got a big lift from one of their leaders, catcher Matt Wieters, who homered twice to back a fantastic 7 1/3-innings effort from starter Kevin Gausman. Closer Zach Britton, who came on for the final five outs, sealed the deal with a strikeout of Brett Gardner.
"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," Britton said. "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."