It will go down as one of the most memorable home runs in Blue Jays history.
Number 19, Jose Bautista, was absent from the postseason for over 1,400 games, with chances at a pennant slipping away each year. On Wednesday night, he did whatever it took to keep his Toronto Blue Jays alive, and was the main catalyst in a 6-3 victory.
The Texas Rangers had just taken a 3-2 lead on a controversial call in the top of the seventh.
The initial ruling was a dead ball, you can see home plate umpire Dale Scott signal just that after it ricocheted down the third base line. At that point, the players stopped (not that Josh Donaldson had any shot at Odor, anyway). In this case, it was the wrong call. Sanchez had just delivered a pitch to Martin, therefore, the ball is still live, no matter what happens in between the catcher receiving the ball and throwing it back to the pitcher. The opposition argument that can be made would be one for batter’s interference, but Choo had both feet, and arms, in the box. On a live ball the catcher is responsible for accurately throwing back to the mound. Think of it as a catcher overthrow. It came down to being a poor mental error on Martin, but one that would quickly be forgotten the next inning.
The bottom half of the frame displayed some kind of poetic justice that would make most Blue Jays fans wake up this morning thinking, “Did that actually happen?” It’s Major League Baseball, you just never see back-to-back-to-back errors to load the bases…these players are too good at their craft. But it’s exactly what happened. It started with a Martin soft shot up the middle that Elvis Andrus bobbled. Then it was Mitch Moreland who threw away a Kevin Pillar ground ball trying to get the lead runner. Ryan Goins stepped to the plate with a chance to sacrifice but ended up squaring a bit too early and drew the infielders in. Texas worked the “wheel play,” (third baseman comes in to field the bunt, while the shortstop is responsible for beating the runner to third and making the tag) where Andrus would commit his second error of the inning, not being able to handle the accurate throw from Adrian Beltre. Ben Revere would ground out to give Texas their first out of the inning, slowly losing grip on their one-run cushion, that they would soon lose. Josh Donaldson’s RBI flare would tie the game at three, turning the lights on and setting the stage for Jose Bautista.
A blast 22 years in the making from the player-turned Toronto all-star. Over 1,400 games in this league, 286 home runs, but none bigger than that one. The three-run shot delivered the final blow to Texas and their season as 20-year-old rookie Roberto Osuna would shut them out the rest of the way, becoming the youngest player in MLB history to close out the ALDS. “For Canada, for the fans,” General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said through a voice that left him in the bottom of the sixth, “I even feel it, driving around the city, it is amazing what has gone on.”
Cole Hamels would take the loss after keeping Toronto at bay for most of the night. His lone mistakes went to Bautista in the bottom of third after a double, and the Edwin Encarnacion solo home run in the sixth.
Final Line: 6.1IP 4H 5R 2ER 2BB 8 K
Marcus Stroman didn’t dominate, but he pitched well into the game, got outs when he needed them, and also held the Rangers to just two runs.
Final Line: 6.0IP 6H 2R 2ER 1BB 4K
The Toronto Blue Jays will travel to Kansas City to play the Royals this Friday in Game One of the American League Conference Championship.
Series Wrap Up Notes
Where in the world was Prince Fielder? Going just 3-20 (.150 AVG) with 1 RBI, .340 OPS, and an OBP of .190, won the award for least production between the two clubs.
Who was runner-up? It may come to a surprise, but it is Troy Tulowitzki. Number 2 struggled to make consistent contact throughout the series, going just 2-21 (0.95 AVG), but did have 4 RBI with an OPS of .412.
Rougned Odor showcased his talents throughout, whether it was aggressive baserunning or using his speed to beat out throws to home, Odor always seemed to be making plays for Texas. The 21-year-old finished 5-18 (.278 AVG) scoring 7 runs, carrying an OBP of .381 and an OPS of .881.
Mitch Moreland, Shin-Soo Choo, and Prince Fielder combined for one home run in the series.
Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion combined for five homers.
Game 5 showed a major youth movement for Toronto in terms of their pitching:
Marcus Stroman – Age 24
Aaron Sanchez – Age 23
Roberto Osuna – Age 20