Pete Hodges recaps Game 2 of the ALDS between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers in which Roberto Osuna slammed the door.
With Yu Darvish on the mound, the Texas Rangers hoped their “other” ace could quiet Toronto’s bats. Darvish cruised through the first inning with just eight pitches thrown, sitting down Ezequiel Carrera, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion in order. However, a leadoff walk in the second to Jose Bautista presented trouble when, two batters later, Troy Tulowitzki blasted a two-run shot off of an inside four-seam fastball. Darvish escaped without further damage with the Rangers trailing 2-0 after two innings.
Cy Young hopeful J.A. Happ danced around trouble through each of his first three innings for the Blue Jays. The lefty allowed a single and a walk with two outs in the first inning before inducing an inning-ending groundout by Rougned Odor. In the second inning, he struck out Nomar Mazara and Carlos Gomez with runners in scoring position after coughing up consecutive one-out singles to Ryan Rua and Elvis Andrus. Then, the Rangers thought they finally had him where they wanted him when they put men on the corners with two out in the third, but Happ forced RBI-machine Jonathan Lucroy into an inning-ending groundout. The Rangers registered their seventh baserunner of the day when Nomar Mazara reached, and the Rangers finally broke through on an Ian Desmond single. Desmond’s hit was the third of the inning, but Happ would escape further damage, leaving the score at 2-1 after four innings.
But the Blue Jays Kevin Pillar quickly quieted the excited crowd with his first home run since June 16. Two batters later, light-hitting left fielder Ezequiel Carrera followed suit, sending a 92-mph fastball over the right-center field fence. Donaldson put up a fight with a six-pitch at-bat, but eventually went down, popping out to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Then Edwin Encarnacion completed the scoring in the inning by lacing a line drive down the left field line over the wall for the third solo shot:
Yu Darvish received a visit from pitching coach Doug Brocail, but remained in the game to face Bautista, who he retired via groundout. However, it would be the righty’s last inning – he finished the day with five innings pitched and five earned runs allowed on five hits and one walk, striking out four. Four of the five runs scored via solo home runs.
Happ recorded his first clean inning of the day in the fifth, but it would be his last. His final line was five innings pitched, allowing one run on nine hits and a walk, while striking out five. Happ was replaced by Joe Biagini, who tossed a perfect sixth inning and then came back out for the bottom of the seventh.
Ian Desmond led off the seventh with a double and he moved to third on a Carlos Beltran groundout to first base. Future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre then grounded out to his counterpart, Josh Donaldson, who threw home when he noticed a slight hesitation in Desmond’s approach to home:
The play was reviewed and the call on the field upheld. The score was now 5-1 with two outs in the seventh inning and a man on first. Biagini was lifted in favor of Brett Cecil and the lefty-lefty matchup, but Cecil was not up to the task. He walked Odor on four pitches and was removed and replaced by former closer and current setup man Jason Grilli to face Lucroy. With a men on first and second, Grilli buckled down and forced the slugging catcher to pop out in foul territory.
The Rangers bullpen quelled the Blue Jays bats the remainder of the way, as Barnette went two shutout innings giving up one hits and striking out one. Matt Bush then came on and tossed an inning, allowing one walk and striking out another. Sam Dyson pitched pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out one.
For the Jays, former starter Francisco Liriano entered in the eighth inning, and allowed a leadoff double to pinch hitter Mitch Moreland. After a lineout by Andrus, the lefty walked another pinch hitter, Robinson Chirinos, who was lifted for a pinch runner (Jared Hoying) when he reached. Carlos Gomez kept the rally going when he smashed a line drive right up the middle – and off of the back of Liriano’s head for a RBI-single.
Manager John Gibbons wisely took Liriano out of the game immediately, as there’s no reason to risk possible injury after a player has been hit in the head. The Blue Jays called on ailing closer Roberto Osuna for the five-out save with the score at 5-2. The righty induced a groundout that scored Hoying from third, and then struck out Beltran after a seven-pitch battle:
Beltre then sought to make things interesting with a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth. Osuna was having none of that, though. The closer sent Odor back to the dugout after he whiffed on 95-mph fastball, then forced Lucroy to pop out on the first pitch he saw, and finally retired Moreland on a flyout to center field, ending the game.
Texas finds themselves in a tight spot, down two games to none and headed north of the border. However, if their offense can wake up they still have a chance.