After taking a 2-0 lead in the ALDS over the Rangers in Texas, the Blue Jays return home to the Skydome. The last time they were here, they walked off the Baltimore Orioles in an 11-inning Wild Card game, allowing them to return to the ALDS and play the Rangers for the second straight season. A win in this game would mean they sweep the Rangers and advance to the ALCS, a loss would mean they play Game 4.
Carlos Gomez leads off the game with a walk. Gomez steals second base, reaches third on an Ian Desmond groundout (which Russell Martin handles skillfully), and scores when Carlos Beltran grounds out. Adrian Beltre flies out to end the inning, with Texas ahead 1-0.
Following another strikeout, to Jose Bautista, Russell Martin gets his first hit of the postseason – a solo homer – and the score is 3-1.
Andrus leads off the top of the 3rd, and hits a solo shot to left field. It is the first home run the Rangers have hit in this series, and brings the score to 3-2 in favour of the Blue Jays. Sanchez gets the next three batters in order, including a strikeout on Ian Desmond.
Toronto wastes no time widening the lead, as Carrera singles again, steals second base, and scores when Josh Donaldson hits a ground-rule double. Lewis is removed from the game after just two-plus innings pitched, having allowed four earned runs (so far, as Donaldson is also his responsibility) on five hits. Lewis’ replacement, Tony Barnette, immediately allows an RBI single to Encarnacion, scoring Donaldson and bringing Lewis’ runs allowed to five. Bautista flies out, Martin reaches on a forceout, and then Troy Tulowitzki hits into a forceout to end the inning. It is now 5-3 Blue Jays.
Sanchez issues his second walk of the game to Carlos Beltran to start the inning. Beltran is erased when Adrian Beltre grounds into a fielder’s choice, then Beltre scores when Rougned Odor hits a two-run homer. This brings Texas to within a run. Jonathan Lucroy lines out, Moreland walks, and Elvis Andrus flies out, making Moreland Texas’ first stranded runner of the game.
Barnette is out, Alex Claudio is in. The Jays get their own leadoff walk, to Michael Saunders, then Pillar grounds into a forceout fielded by the pitcher. Pillar is erased when Darwin Barney grounds into a double play.
Sanchez strikes out the side in order, with Nomar Mazara, Gomez and Desmond all going down swinging. He needs just four pitches against each of Gomez and Desmond, and is now at 78 pitches on the night.
The Blue Jays chase Claudio after a 1-out single to Josh Donaldson. Jeremy Jeffress walks Encarnacion, the first batter he faces, but then gets Bautista to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
The first two batters go down easily – a Beltran groundout and a Beltre flyout in foul territory – but Sanchez gets into trouble after walking Odor and giving up a single to Lucroy on the first pitch. Sanchez’s night is over after 5.2 innings with three hits allowed, four walks and three strikeouts. Joe Biagini enters with runners on first and second, and gives up a two-run double to Moreland, which barely avoids a diving Pillar’s glove and gives Texas the lead. Andrus lines out afterwards, but the damage is done. It’s 6-5 Rangers, and Sanchez is on the hook for the loss.
The Jays load the bases with one out, as Tulowitzki singles, pinch-hitting Melvin Upton Jr. doubles off new pitcher Jake Diekman, and Pillar is intentionally walked. Keone Kela is pitching to Ezequiel Carrera with two outs when a pitch in the dirt bounces off catcher Lucroy’s glove and away to the backstop, allowing Tulowitzki to race home and tie the game. Carrera then flies out to Mazara deep in the right field corner, so the rally is cut short. But at least the game is tied.
Biagini is still pitching for the Jays, and strikes out Mazara, then Donaldson makes a terrific barehanded play on a ground ball from Gomez. Desmond grounds out to the mound to end the inning.
The Jays also go down in order against Kela, as Donaldson strikes out, Encarnacion flies out and Bautista pops out.
Jason Grilli takes down two batters on four pitches – including a strikeout of Beltre – then Brett Cecil is called in to face the left-handed Odor. Odor pops out to Donaldson, and the Jays bats are up again.
Matt Bush comes in for Texas, and strikes out Martin, Tulowitzki and Upton, with only two of the thirteen pitches between the three of them being balls.
Roberto Osuna is brought in in a tie game, throws eight pitches, and gets two foul pop-outs (one from Lucroy, which Martin catches just in front of the dugout railing, as well as one from Andrus) and a groundout (Moreland).
Again the Jays hitters offer little resistance to Bush, as Pillar whiffs, and Barney and Carrera each fly out. It’s still tied, which means time for extra innings!
Osuna remains in the game, strikes out pinch-hitter Jared Hoying and Gomez, then Desmond flies out.
With Bush still in for a third inning, Josh Donaldson leads off with a double. Encarnacion is intentionally walked, Bautista strikes out, and this is starting to look very much like the 9th inning of the wild card game.
In that game, Russell Martin ground into a double play to end the inning. This time, he hits a ground ball to the shortstop Andrus, who throws to the second baseman Odor, and Encarnacion is forced out. Donaldson gets to third, and Odor tries to complete the DP but first baseman Moreland can’t scoop it out of the dirt. Martin reaches safely, Donaldson rounds third and begins to sprint home as Moreland tries to throw the ball home, it goes off Lucroy’s glove and Donaldson dives in.
Donaldson leaps into Tulo’s arms. Pillar tears off from the group-hug to go and tackle Martin. Then Jeff Bannister decides to make a last-ditch attempt at an appeal – both on EE’s slide at second, and whether or not Donaldson touched home plate. After a moment of pause in the Jays’ celebration, crew chief Joe West takes off his headset and deliberately indicates that Encarnacion’s slide was legal, and Donaldson did in fact touch home. Martin and Donaldson are both therefore safe, the run counts and the game is over. The Blue Jays win the game, and sweep the series!!
Post-game, Marco Estrada gives interviews with his voice completely gone. Donaldson holds Brett Cecil’s kids. Encarnacion mock-conducts a crowd in chanting his name. Martin, Sanchez, Donaldson and a few others go around the entire field high-fiving and hugging random fans. It’s awesome.
Sanchez allowed only three hits, but two of them were home runs and it was really the walks which hurt him. He struggled with his command (of his 92 pitches, 53 were strikes), which is what led to the walks and also caused his high pitch count. He
Over the course of the three-game series, the Rangers only had the lead twice – and each only for a half-inning. Both were in this game, once in the first inning before the Jays overtook the lead, then in the 6th before the Jays tied it in the bottom half.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- This is the first ever postseason series sweep in team history
- The Blue Jays become the first team to ever win a playoff series on a walkoff error.
- The Jays are the first team to win two playoff series in extra-inning walkoff fashion in the same season.
Game 3 MVP: Josh Donaldson
This was a close one, what with some great pitching performances from Biagini and Osuna, as well as Encarnacion and Martin’s homers. But Donaldson scored the run that sent the Jays to the ALCS so we’ll go with him.
The Bringer of Rain was responsible for 3 of the Jays’ 10 hits, including two doubles. He also scored twice and drove in a run. That’s in addition to a few key defensive plays. But it was his heads-up baserunning – taking a secondary lead, rounding third quickly, getting a good read on the play and sliding into home so aggressively that it would’ve made it hard for Lucroy to tag him even if he had held onto the ball – that truly earned him the honours.