BALTIMORE - The Toronto Blue Jays yelled, hugged and jumped for joy around the mound after clinching their first AL East title in 22 years.
Two months earlier, such a celebration was almost impossible to imagine. Yet, with their 15-2 rout of Baltimore in the first game of a doubleheader on Wednesday, the Blue Jays brought an appropriate conclusion to their unstoppable, late-season run.
Needing only one victory to eliminate the New York Yankees and claim their first title since 1993, the Blue Jays ended the suspense quickly taking a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning before adding four unearned runs in the fifth.
The remaining innings were a mere 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 on Tuesday.
"You're on the road, but it felt like a home game," said Marcus Stroman, who pitched eight strong innings. "I thought the majority of the stadium was Blue Jays fans. So that just goes to show how excited people are to take the trip down from the North to see us clinch. It's been special."
Because there was a second game to be played, the Blue Jays opted to put off the champagne celebration until after the nightcap — an 8-1 loss to the Orioles who got two homers from Chris Davis.
"Everyone is elated," Stroman said. "Everyone is ecstatic and happy. "
Stroman (4-0) allowed one run and five hits with eight strikeouts in his fourth start since returning from left knee surgery.
Jose Bautista hit his 40th home run, Edwin Encarnacion delivered No. 37 and Justin Smoak also connected for Toronto who won their sixth game in a row.
Toronto was fourth in the AL East on the morning of July 29 with a 50-51 record, eight games behind the Yankees. But boosted by the acquisitions of David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, Latroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe, the Blue Jays won 42 of their next 56 games, outscoring opponents 342-200.