Blue Jays are AL East champs

BALTIMORE– Marcus Stroman allowed one run in eight strong innings and the Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first American League East title in 22 years with a 15-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader on Wednesday.

Toronto last claimed a division title in 1993 when it won the World Series. That also was its last playoff berth.

The Jays (92-65) have won six straight and are pursuing the best record in the American League, which would give them home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The victory improved their lead over the Kansas City Royals to two games, pending Wednesday night’s results.

Stroman (4-0) gave up one run and five hits with eight strikeouts and two walks, rarely encountering trouble.

The right-hander has won all four starts since returning from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during spring training. He has allowed five runs in 27 innings overall, only giving up a solo homer to left fielder Steve Pearce in the seventh inning on Wednesday.

Veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, retiring after the season, came on in the ninth to lock it up.

The Blue Jays showed plenty of their own power. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer in the seventh and right fielder Jose Bautista and first baseman Justin Smoak both added solo shots in a five-run ninth.

Shortstop Ryan Goins went 5-for-5 and had a walk and two runs as Toronto finished with 18 hits.

The slumping Orioles (76-81) have lost five straight and won’t finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011. They also set season highs in errors (four) and walks allowed (10) in the game.

Baltimore won the East last year — clinching against Toronto at Oriole Park.

The Jays gave Stroman lots of help early — delighting a strong contingent of their fans cheering loudly in the section behind the dugout — against Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (9-12), coming off the disabled list after battling shoulder tendinitis.

Gonzalez wasn’t sharp all the time, and Toronto scored twice in the second to take a lead it never lost.

Martin’s double made it 1-0 with one out. He moved to third when shortstop Manny Machado sailed a relay throw to the backstop and then scored when Goins followed with a single.

The Jays added two runs inthe fourth thanks to an RBI single from left fielder Ben Revere and Bautista’s bases-loaded walk.

Baltimore helped the Jays score four times in the fifth for an 8-0 lead. The Orioles made two errors on one play when second baseman Darwin Barney hit a soft grounder back to pitcher Jason Garcia. The right-hander made a bad throw and first baseman Chris Davis followed with one of his own, allowing Barney and two runners to score.

Third baseman Josh Donaldson later added an RBI double in the inning that gave the Jays the 8-0 lead, which broke the game open.

NOTES: The start time of Thursday’s series finale was moved from 7:05 p.m. to 12:05 p.m. because of impending storms headed up the East Coast. … Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez was activated from the disabled list (right shoulder tendinits) to make his first start since Aug. 30. He will end the season without a win in the final two months. … The Blue Jays selected the contract of SS Jonathan Diaz before the doubleheader. They made room on their roster by designating RHP Donn Roach for assignment. … Now that the division is in hand, Toronto manager John Gibbons will give various starters some rest in the coming days even though the Jays want to finish with the best record in the American League.

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