That’s how you do October baseball. Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers proved to be a knock-down, drag-out contest, but only one team could come out on top.
Turns out, the Blue Jays had the stamina to outlast the Rangers. It would take everything they had, however, to pick up the 7-6 win and move on to the American League Championship Series. [restrict]
Both clubs came out swinging early, tagging the opposing starting pitchers. After the Rangers took a one-run lead in the first, Toronto came roaring back with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Rangers refused to quit, fighting their way back and taking the lead on a clutch hit by Mitch Moreland in the sixth inning. That lead didn’t last long. In the bottom of the frame, the Blue Jays tied things up on a wild pitch.
The game would remain tied until the 10th inning. With two men on base, Russell Martin hit what appeared to be an inning-ending double-play ball to short. Elvis Andrus fielded the ball and threw out the runner at second, but the throw to first from Rougned Odor was slightly off line. Mitch Moreland was pulled off the bag, bobbling the ball. That allowed Josh Donaldson to hustle home and just beat the throw from first to pick up the walk-off 7-6 win and send the Blue Jays to the ALCS.
- Edwin Encarnacion got the Blue Jays on the board early, taking the parrot for a walk with a two-run homer in the first inning. He would add an RBI single in the third inning as well, adding to Toronto’s lead. He also reached on a walk in the fifth inning. Encarnacion finished the contest 2-for-3, with a run scored and three RBI.
- The entire Blue Jays bullpen turned in a fantastic performance in relief of Aaron Sanchez. Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli, Brett Cecil and Roberto Osuna combined to give up just one hit over 4 1/3 shutout innings. They struck out four and didn’t issue any walks, completely shutting down the Rangers when it mattered most.
- Mitch Moreland pulled off one of the biggest hits of the night in the sixth inning. With two outs, and men on first and second, Moreland drove a double out to left center field to put the Rangers back up on top. It was Moreland’s only hit of the night, but it made a huge impact.
- Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis didn’t have his best stuff during Sunday’s start. Lewis left too many sliders over the plate early, giving up home runs to Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin in the first inning. He managed to get through the second inning unscathed, but again found himself in trouble in the third, putting the first two men on base before getting pulled. Lewis lasted just two innings, giving up five runs in the start.
- Neither starting pitcher looked great in this one. Aaron Sanchez immediately found himself in trouble, walking the leadoff batter in the first. That would come back to haunt him, as Carlos Gomez would score, giving the Rangers an early lead. Control issues would plague Sanchez all night, as he walked four batters. Overall, Sanchez gave up six earned runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings.
- Rougned Odor had a strong game at the plate, hitting a home run in the fourth inning, but the game was lost on his throwing error. Odor’s throw was slightly off-line to Moreland at first, which led to the bobble that allowed Donaldson to hustle home. Given Odor’s history with Toronto, it was a tough way for the Rangers to lose this one.
With two men on in the bottom of the 10th inning, Martin hit what could have been an inning-ending double-play ball. Instead, the Blue Jays came away with the win. Odor’s throw from second was off-line, causing Moreland to come off the bag at first and briefly misplay the ball.
Josh Donaldson was running hard the whole way, and managed to beat the throw home after Moreland’s bobble, giving Toronto a dramatic walk-off victory. [/restrict]