It’s been seven years in the making. The Major League Baseball (MLB) Baltimore Orioles have clinched their first postseason berth since the days of Hyun Soo Kim (35-LG Twins).
Baltimore won the 2023 Major League Baseball home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 in 11 innings on Monday (June 18) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.안전놀이터
Tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth inning, Tampa Bay scored two runs, including a solo shot by Christian Betancourt, formerly of the NC Dinos, to take the lead. But Baltimore rallied with a solo home run by Adley Rushman in the bottom of the eighth, and then tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth when Adam Frazier lined a shot through the shift to left field.
The Baltimore Orioles celebrate with champagne after clinching a spot in the postseason on Monday, April 18.
In extra innings, the teams scored a run apiece in the 10th. In the bottom of the 11th, Baltimore loaded the bases with one out when Cedric Mullins hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Rushman from third. With the victory finalized, the Baltimore players ran onto the field and doused themselves in water to celebrate.
With the win, Baltimore improves to 93-56 (.624 winning percentage) on the season. With 13 games remaining in the season, the Orioles have clinched a postseason berth regardless of the outcome of their remaining games. The Orioles are currently two games back of second-place Tampa Bay in the American League East and 12 games back of the fourth wild-card spot, the Seattle Mariners, who have played the same 149 games.
This is Baltimore’s first trip to fall ball since 2016. Under then-manager Buck Showalter (now of the New York Mets), the Orioles won 89 games and advanced to the postseason as a wild card. They were led by the power trio of Mark Trumbo, Manny Machado, and Chris Davis, who combined for more than 30 home runs, and closer Zach Britton, who finished fourth in the Cy Young Award with 47 saves and a 0.54 ERA.
But there was no fall baseball for the Orioles, as they went 2-5 in a wild-card game against the Toronto Blue Jays, losing to Edwin Encarnacion on a game-tying three-run homer in extra innings.
Baltimore’s starting lineup for the 2016 American League Wild Card Game. Hyun Soo Kim batted second in the lineup.
After the Orioles clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time in seven years, Major League Baseball’s official social media accounts showed off the Orioles’ lineup for the 2016 Wild Card Game. There was a familiar name there. It was Hyun-Soo Kim. He was batting second and playing left field, going hitless in four at-bats. He had a close call in the bottom of the seventh inning when he was hit by a soda can thrown by a Toronto fan while fielding.
Kim Hyun-soo, who reached the major leagues in 2016, was included in the opening day roster despite a poor showing during the exhibition games. He hit unexpectedly well, finishing the season with a .302 batting average, six home runs, 22 RBIs, and an OPS of .801 in 95 games. On September 29 of that year, he hit a walk-off, game-winning two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning against Toronto, trailing 1-2, to give Baltimore an advantage in the wild-card race.
After the 2017 season, Kim ended his big league challenge and signed with the LG Twins. It wasn’t until this year, his sixth year back in the KBO, that Baltimore reconnected with fall baseball.
Kim Hyun-soo, left, circles the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning against Toronto, Sept. 29, 2016.
Hyun Soo Kim, right, celebrates with teammates after clinching a wild-card berth in 2016 while with Baltimore.
Baltimore crashed to last place in the division in 2017 and lost a whopping 115 games the following year. They eventually sold Machado and began a de facto rebuild. From 2018 to 2021, the Orioles struggled to get going, finishing in the .500 range three times.
But the Orioles rebounded as players like Mullins, Austin Hayes, and 2019’s No. 1 overall pick, Rushman, who took over the starting job during the dark years, fulfilled their potential. After dipping to a -11 win-loss margin at one point last year, Baltimore went on a tear in early July, winning 10 straight games and, although they failed to make fall ball, achieving their best winning percentage (.512) in six years.
The team then steadily won games to start the year, never losing more than five in a row with an 87-game series sweep. The bullpen, anchored by closer Felix Batista and setup man Yoenis Cano, has been key. After a dominant start to the season, Baltimore jumped into the division lead on July 20 and has held it for nearly two months as Tampa Bay has fallen off over the summer.