Well, Blue Jays fans certainly do have something to be thankful for this weekend. The ALDS matchup everyone wanted to see ended exactly how everyone wanted it to: with the Rangers (the winningest team in the American League, no less) being swept away at Rogers Centre.
— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) October 10, 2016
Of course, if you’ve been paying attention this season, you know why everyone wanted to see these two teams go head-to-head. In fact you’ve probably already been bombarded with the replay a hundred times or more… But once more won’t hurt I suppose.
And of course, we all know what led to that, and I’ll never get tired of watching this replay:
Jose was careful not to offend anyone in Game 1 when he knocked yet another 3-run jack out of the park. Watch how he gently sets the bat down after driving another nail into the Rangers’ coffin with it:
Bautista’s bat drop. pic.twitter.com/pU3ycNCvWH
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) October 6, 2016
The Jays really looked like they came to play this series. They were all over Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, whom the Rangers were pretty much depending on to shut the Jays down, taking both of them deep repeatedly. After 10-1 and 5-3 wins in Games 1 and 2, the Jays found themselves in the same situation the Rangers were in last year: Up 2-0 and looking to put it away at home. We know as well as anyone that 2-0 series lead does NOT guarantee a victory, as the Jays fought back to win 3 in a row and take the series last year. Thankfully for us, the Rangers have been known to choke during big moments – need I bring up those 3 errors that led to the bat flip dinger last year?
In September, it got to be pretty tough to watch the Jays play. It was a pretty tough month, and they came close to not even making the playoffs. But with 2 clutch victories to finish the season, a win in the Wild Card game and a sweep of the ALDS, I think you’d be hard-pressed to suggest there’s a hotter team in baseball at this moment. I’ve been quite relaxed and comfortable watching the last few games, and game into last night’s Game 3 expecting something great. And boy, what a great game. Texas managed to score in the top of the first inning without a hit, but when it was the Jays’ turn to swing the bats, they wasted no time in responding. Here’s the Spanish call of Edwin Encarnacion‘s 2-run shot in the bottom of the first:
And Russell Martin followed that up with a dinger of his own, and in doing so collected his first hit of the series:
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus homered to start the 3rd, but in the bottom, the Jays responded. Again. Ezequiel Carrera singled and stole second base, and Josh Donaldson (who has been HOT at the plate in October) hit this fantastic double to plate him.
Edwin followed that up with a single to centre which scored Donaldson, and it was 5-3 Blue Jays at the end of the 3rd. However, in the 4th inning with a man on, Public Enemy No. 1 came to the plate. Rougned Odor apparently loves being booed, because this is what happened:
The Rangers were within 1, and in the 6th inning with 2 men on, Mitch Moreland took a pitch from Joe Biagini and spotted it perfectly along the left-centre field wall, JUST out of the reach of Kevin Pillar to score 2 runs. The Rangers had their first run of the series, but it wouldn’t last.
Bottom of the 6th:
And just like that, it’s a tie game again. I’m not going to show all the highlights from the next couple innings, because it was basically just a lot of outs. I have to tip my hat to Roberto Osuna and (reluctantly) to Matt Bush. Of course, it was Bush who threw the 97 mph fastball at Bautista back in May, and so I really have a hard time having any respect for the guy (I mean, we got into all the reasons to not respect the guy we might be here all day), but he pitched a pretty solid 3 innings – something he’d never done before in his young career. However, after a huge double by Josh Donaldson (who really had to hustle to make it to second, and you could tell he was hurting), Bush intentionally walked Edwin. Can’t blame a guy for wanting nothing to do with his bat, as disappointing as it was for Jays fans. Bautista struck out next, meaning a double play would get the Rangers out of the inning. However, after an excellent 8-pitch at-bat, Russell Martin came through… Kind of.
Now if you watch a lot of baseball, you were probably thinking the same thing as I was when Russ hit that ball: inning-ending doubleplay. But talk about destiny, it was Rougned Odor making the throwing error that brought Mitch Moreland off the bag, meaning Martin was safe at first. As soon as that happened, I jumped out of my chair, and sure enough, The Bringer of Rain rounded third and came in to score and knock out the Rangers. It was a perfect ending, but it might not have happened without some serious hustle from both Edwin and Russ. And Jonathan Lucroy definitely helped us by not catching the throw to the plate too.
That was the first time a playoff series has ever been decided by an error. And it happened to Odor. The baseball gods must be smiling on the Blue Jays. Here’s what Odor had to say after the game:
But really, this sign brought by a fan said it all:
What may have been my favourite part of the whole game-ending play was the shot of Matt Bush, crouched on the ground, with the camera shaking wildly. Someone added the perfect caption:
Could you imagine having been in the stands? This is what it looked like:
And now we can add another thing to this classic book:
And after seeing Dioner Navarro smoking a cigar in a cop hat after last year’s ALDS win…
We got treated to that sight again.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) October 10, 2016
And now I get to use this .gif, which is pretty much perfect.
Look out Boston or Cleveland… We’re comin’ for ya!