Just chalk it up as one more thing that nobody could have imagined when this baseball season started. The Orioles and the Washington Nationals clinched their respective East division titles almost simultaneously.
The Nats officially were the first major league team to lock up a title, getting the last out of a 3-0 victory over the second-place Atlanta Braves at 9:48 EDT in their 150th game of the season. The Orioles would wrap up the AL East at 10:09 p.m., but they needed 151 games to stamp their ticket to the playoffs.
In one respect, it was anti-climactic. There was no doubt going into last night’s game that either team would eventually nail down a title, but no one could have predicted they would both do it so early…and on the same night.
The Orioles got to celebrate in front of a big crowd at Oriole Park. The Nats had to douse each other in champagne in the visitor’s clubhouse at Turner Field, but who’s going to complain about the global coordinates at this point. What an amazing night for all concerned, and what a coup for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network to have two clubhouse celebrations kick off in the space of about an hour.
If the season were to end today, the Orioles would open the playoffs at home against the Detroit Tigers and the Nats would open at home against the winner of the National League wild-card playoff, but there’s a long way to go before the seedings are finalized.
Tomorrow, both teams begin to strike a balance between fighting for the best possible seed and getting their regulars rested and ready for the postseason. Tonight is a time for well-deserved celebration and self-congratulation.