BALTIMORE — The Blue Jays yelled, hugged and jumped for joy around the mound after clinching their first AL East title in 22 years.
With a 15-2 rout of the Orioles in a doubleheader opener Wednesday, Toronto brought an appropriate conclusion to its two-month run.
The Jays entered needing one victory to eliminate the Yankees in the division race and claim their first title since 1993. The suspense ended quickly as Toronto built a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning of the opener before adding four unearned runs in the fifth.
The remaining innings were a prelude to a celebration more than two decades in the making. There were several hundred blue-clad Toronto fans in the small crowd that gathered for the makeup of a game washed out by rain Tuesday.
"You're on the road, but it felt like a home game," said Marcus Stroman, who pitched eight strong innings.
Because there was a second game to be played, the Blue Jays opted to put off the champagne celebration until after the nightcap. After waiting this long to toast a division title, a few hours probably wasn't going to make much difference.
"We have 30 minutes in between games, so we have to lock it back in quickly," Stroman said.
Baltimore won the nightcap 8-1, getting two home runs from Chris Davis.
Toronto was fourth in the AL East the morning of July 29 at 50-51, eight games behind the Yankees. But boosted by the acquisitions of former Rays ace David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, and others, the Blue Jays won 42 of their next 56, outscoring opponents 342-200.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos insisted that in late July, the goal was merely to reach the playoffs.
"We felt we had a real good team that underachieved to this point," he said. "Our last two months, we were playing really good teams that we were going to chase. So, we thought we had a shot."