After blowing out the Rangers 10-1 behind a strong performance from Marco Estrada in Game 1, they’re still in Texas Friday to try and get a 2-game lead before heading home. This game is set to begin about 18 hours after the last one ended.
J.A. Happ is the starter for Toronto, Yu Darvish for the Rangers. The Jays hitters have yet to see Darvish this season, as he was on the disabled list in May when both Toronto-Texas series took place. Shortly before game time it is announced that second baseman Devon Travis will not be starting, as he has an ‘irritated knee’ that was bothering him slightly the day before and has since gotten worse. He’ll be replaced at second with Darwin Barney, and Ezequiel Carrera is the new leadoff hitter.
Darvish mows down the top of the order with ease, getting two flyouts and a groundout on eight pitches.
Happ struggles a little more, getting two quick outs, then allowing a Carlos Beltran infield single and walking Adrian Beltre. Then Rougned Odor grounds out to first, and Happ leaves the pair on base.
Jose Bautista leads off the inning with a walk, then with one out Troy Tulowitzki hits his first homer of the postseason, a two-run shot to left field. Michael Saunders and Kevin Pillar fly out, but the Blue Jays are on the board, 2-0.
Bautista starts off the bottom of the inning by making a nice sliding catch on a Jonathan Lucroy fly ball. It surprises Estrada, who is being interviewed on-camera at the time. Happ gives up back-to-back singles to Ryan Rua and Elvis Andrus, before striking out both Nomar Mazara and Carlos Gomez looking to strand another pair.
Darwin Barney gets hit with a pitch in the lower leg, after fouling off four consecutive pitches. Due to the contentious (and at times violent) rivalry between these two teams, some rumblings can be heard from the assembled Jays fans, as well as those on Twitter. But it’s unlikely Darvish did it on purpose. Carrera strikes out looking on three pitches after two failed bunt attempts, then Josh Donaldson goes down swinging. Edwin Encarnacion grounds into a forceout, Barney is out at second, and the inning is over.
After a leadoff Ian Desmond single, Happ gets two fly ball outs, then a Rougned Odor single allows Desmond to get to third. He will be left there, as Lucroy grounds out to second base. Happ has allowed two baserunners per inning and stranded them all. His team is still up, 2-nil.
Bautista lines out to left, Martin grounds out and Tulowitzki singles. Designated hitter Michael Saunders then strikes out swinging on a nasty curveball that ends up practically at his ankles.
Happ gets two outs, then runs into some trouble when Nomar Mazara singles, Gomez singles, and Desmond also singles to score Mazara. But he escapes the inning with men on first and third. It’s 2-1 Blue Jays.
Kevin Pillar hasn’t hit a home run since June 16th, when he hit two. That changes right here, as he swings at a ball 4.2 feet off the ground and it goes sailing over the left-field fence. Darwin Barney pops out, then Ezequiel Carrera follows Pillar’s suit and sends a ball 388 feet into right center field. Donaldson pops out, then Encarnacion joins the fun with his second home run of the postseason (and first in this series). After Bautista grounds out to end the inning, it’s 5-1 Blue Jays.
Happ has his first three-up-three down inning of the game, including a strikeout of Beltre. He’s at 83 pitches now, though, meaning it’s a good thing that the bullpen didn’t really get used in Game 1.
Darvish is done. His final line for the day – five earned runs on five hits and one walk over five innings, along with four strikeouts and a HBP. Tony Barnette (who was used in the 8th inning the day before) comes in and allows a two-out single to Michael Saunders, before a Pillar forceout ends the inning.
Happ starts the sixth, but after a first-pitch single to Ryan Rua he’s done too. He leaves in line for the win, having allowed one earned run on nine hits and one walk, with five strikeouts over five-plus innings. Joe Biagini gets two groundouts and a pop-out to leave Rua at first base.
Barnette shuts down Barney, Carrera and Donaldson in order, including a four-pitch strikeout of Carrera.
Biagini gets in a bit of a jam when he allows a leadoff double to Ian Desmond, and Desmond gets to third on a Beltran groundout. Luck appears to be on his side, however, when Beltre hits a ground ball to Josh Donaldson and Desmond hesitates before breaking for home. Rather than taking the easy out at first, Donaldson makes a heads-up play and fires the ball home, where Russell Martin tags Desmond out at the plate. The Rangers ask for it to be reviewed, but the call is confirmed.
With Beltre at first and two outs, Brett Cecil is brought in to face the left-handed Rougned Odor. Cecil walks him on four pitches. Jason Grilli comes in, and gets Lucroy to fly out in foul territory. Odor and Beltre are stranded, the tenth and eleventh Texas runners of the game to be. The score is still 5-1 in favour of Toronto.
Matt Bush (who you may remember as the reliever who hit Jose Bautista with a pitch during his last regular-season plate appearance against these Rangers, which led up to the brawl) enters the game. Bush works a scoreless inning, striking out Bautista looking on a fastball that may or may not have been inside, walking Martin, and then leaving him there when Tulowitzki flies out.
Francisco Liriano starts the inning for the Jays, and immediately gives up a double to pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland which barely gets past Encarnacion at first. Elvis Andrus flies out to Pillar, who makes his second impressive catch in as many games. Pinch-hitter Robinson Chirinos takes nine pitches to earn a walk, and then Carlos Gomez hits a ball straight back to the mound, catching Liriano in the back of the head. The ball pops into center field, scoring Moreland, but right now the Jays are more concerned with their pitcher than they are with the run.
Liriano remains on his feet, and talks to John Gibbons and the training staff. He leaves the field under his own power, which seems to be a good sign, but his status is in question. This also results in John Gibbons having to use his closer Roberto Osuna earlier than planned. Osuna gets two quick outs, including a strikeout of Beltran, but the first one (a Desmond groundout) scores pinch-runner Jared Hoying and the score is now 5-3 Blue Jays.
Sam Dyson (who you may remember as the reliever who threw the 1-1 pitch that Bautista drilled into left field to win ALDS Game 5 last year) comes in to pitch the 9th. Saunders strikes out looking, Pillar pops out and Barney grounds out. Now it will be up to Osuna to close out the game and maintain the slim lead.
After a leadoff Beltre double – which Melvin Upton watches bounce off the wall and then between his legs – things aren’t looking great for Osuna. But he gets Odor to strike out swinging with a full count, Lucroy to pop up on the first pitch he sees, and Moreland to fly out to center. Game over. No panic. Beltre becomes the 13th Texas runner to be left on base. They scored three runs on thirteen hits, compared to Toronto’s five runs on six.
Even if it got a bit dicey at the end there, a win is a win! However, having Travis sidelined with a day-to-day injury, as well as a potentially concussed reliever, really isn’t optimal.
But Game 3 is Sunday! At home! They will have the chance to sweep the series!! It’s very exciting! (Not that I’m forgetting what happened to the Rangers last year when they were up 2-0 on the road…)
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Yu Darvish had never allowed four home runs in the same game before
- The Blue Jays hit four home runs in one postseason game for the first time in team history
- After 14 playoff games each, Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki are now tied for the third-most RBI (16) in the postseason in team history.
- Bautista set a new team record for most consecutive games reaching base safely to start one’s postseason career (14). He broke the previous record of 13 which he himself had set the day before.
- Kevin Pillar’s home run was the fourth-highest ball anyone has hit a homer on all season.
You just can’t leave pitches half a foot above the strike zone to a guy like Kevin Pillar. 3-1 Blue Jays after the solo shot. pic.twitter.com/FjJ3Ozy13o
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) October 7, 2016
Game 2 MVP: Roberto Osuna
Honourable mention goes to Troy Tulowitzki, the only Blue Jay to have a multi-hit game (a home run and a single) and also started off the scoring with his two-run shot in the 2nd.
The last time we saw Osuna in a game, he was leaving the field with some kind of shoulder discomfort in the 10th inning of the Wild Card game. He’d pitched in two of the Jays’ games in Boston the weekend prior, for a total of 3 innings in the series. Gibbons wasn’t sure about using him in Game 1, and luckily the nine-run lead and 8.1 strong innings from Estrada rendered that unnecessary. But Osuna wasn’t expecting to pitch multiple innings in Game 2, and needed to come in (probably earlier than he was expecting) in an emergency with two men on after Liriano got hurt.
If you didn’t know any of that, there would be no indication of fatigue or possible injury. He allowed just one baserunner (the Beltre double) and struck out two. A run did score on his watch, but it was an inherited runner and it was a tradeoff for an out.
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