Pete Hodges recaps Game 2 of the ALDS between Toronto and Texas in which the Blue Jays swept the Rangers.
Down 2-0 in a best-of-five series with their backs against the wall, the Texas Rangers turned to veteran hurler Colby Lewis while the Toronto Blue Jays gave the ball to their Cy Young candidate, Aaron Sanchez. The 22-year-old righty walked leadoff man Carlos Gomez who promptly pilfered second base. Gomez then scored with the assistance of two groundouts, and Sanchez would escape the inning with a no hitter intact – but a shutout bid lost.
For the Jays, Ezequiel Carrera continued his hot-hitting with a leadoff single, ripping a line drive up the middle. He would score two batters later on an Edwin Encarnacion tater, making the score 2-1. After a Jose Bautista strikeout, Russell Martin followed Encarnacion’s lead and launched another ball over the fence – increasing the lead to two, 3-1.
After both pitchers recorded a perfect second inning, Elvis Andrus greeted Sanchez with a leadoff home run in the third inning, cutting the Jays lead to 3-2.
Carrera led off the third inning and again singled, following it up with his first steal of the postseason. The speedy outfielder came around to score when Josh Donaldson smacked a fly ball down the left field line that bounced into the stands in foul territory, resulting in an automatic double. It was at this point that Rangers manager Jeff Bannister lifted Lewis in favor of reliever Tony Barnette. Encarnacion greeted the righty by driving Donaldson home with a grounder ripped up the middle, staking the Blue Jays to a more comfortable three-run lead, 5-2.
Sanchez began the fourth inning by walking veteran Carlos Beltran, who was subsequently forced out at second on an Adrian Beltre groundout. Two pitches later, Rougned Odor smoked a line drive over the center field fence that surely caused Sanchez to suffer from a minor case of whiplash:
But the 22-year-old flashed his ace potential in the fifth by bouncing back from the rough fourth inning and striking out the side in order, maintaining the Blue Jays’ 5-4 lead.
Alex Claudio had replaced Barnette for the Rangers and pitched a scoreless fourth inning but after giving up a one-out single to Donaldson, Bannister turned to Jeremy Jeffress. The midseason acquisition walked the always-dangerous Encarnacion but then induced this inning-ending Jose Bautista double play:
After notching two outs in the sixth, Sanchez walked Odor and gave up a single to catcher Jonathan Lucroy. John Gibbons went to the bullpen for righty Joe Biagini. The 26-year-old allowed both inherited runners to score on a Mitch Moreland double, giving Texas the lead 6-5. Biagini finally escaped the inning after an Elvis Andrus lineout to center field.
Jeffress began the sixth inning by striking out Russell Martin. However, Troy Tulowitzki singled on a fly to right, which ended the righty’s night. Jake Diekman was called upon to face Michael Saunders. However, Gibbons then lifted Saunders for pinch-hitter Melvin Upton Jr., who smashed a double – advancing Tulo to third base. With first base open, Diekman was ordered to walk Kevin Pillar and Keone Kela was brought in to face 9-hole hitter – and noodle bat owner – Darwin Barney. Something went terribly wrong on the second pitch though:
Following the tying run scoring via the passed ball, Kela retired Barney and Carrera without incident. Biagini and Kela then traded perfect seventh innings, each striking out a batter.
The Blue Jays turned to their setup man, Jason Grilli, in the eighth inning. The righty retired Beltran and Beltre on just four pitches before being lifted for lefty Brett Cecil so he could face Odor. Unlike in Game 2, when Cecil walked Odor on four pitches, the specialist did his job this time and forced the thumping second baseman to pop out to third base
Matt Bush entered the game for the Rangers in the eighth and struck out Martin, Tulowitzki, and Upton in order – an impressive feat.
Closer Roberto Osuna was roused in the ninth inning of the tie game. The Game 2 hero threw six pitches and ended the Rangers threat, which included Jonathan Lucroy and Mitch Moreland. Osuna then followed his ninth-inning performance with a two-strikeout tenth inning:
Matt Bush came back out for the tenth inning after throwing two perfect innings of relief. However, he was now tasked with retiring Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista. The inning began with a very unsurprising Donaldson double. The Rangers dugout called for Encarnacion to be walked as any sane team would. Bautista, who may be showing signs of aging, bounced into a potentially perfect double play – but something went wrong:
Hustle from the Bringer of Rain along with a bobble and drop at first base allowed the winning run to cross the plate and Toronto to sweep the number one seeded Texas Rangers. The Wild Card winning Blue Jays will get to rest up before their second consecutive ALCS, and Canada may get to host a World Series again.