Heading onto the American League Division Series, many expected a contest for the ages. It was anything but that. The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays rivalry has become one of the best in Major League Baseball. The series matched the best in the regular season record against the hottest team in the American League.
Rangers vs. Blue Jays ALDS Series Recap
Game One took place at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers earned home field advantage the week before. To the surprise of many, manager Jeff Banister didn’t rest any of his starters. The Blue Jays trounced the Rangers in the opener, making quick work of starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Toronto made him look like a number five pitcher instead of the ace he had been almost all season.
Three Blue Jays were responsible for most of the runs in the game. Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Jose Bautista drove in nine of the ten Blue Jay runs. What bothered Ranger fans the most was that Bautista hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning to put the icing on the cake. That home-run not only deflated the Rangers themselves, but it also took away home field advantage, as the fans seemed to have the wind knocked out of them.
The Rangers entered Game Two with a renewed spirit. They sent Yu Darvish to the mound, and many fans felt this would be the game the Rangers could use to turn around their playoff run. Again, the Blue Jays had different ideas. They lit up Darvish for four home runs, an all-time high in a game for the three-year veteran, and he left the game losing 5-1.
Yet, the Rangers didn’t quit. Following their motto of “Never Ever Give Up,” they rallied, pulling within two run of the Blue Jays. The Rangers started the bottom of the ninth with a Carlos Beltran double. It seemed that things were starting to turn in the Rangers favor. However, Roberto Osuna sat down the next three batters in order, and the Blue Jays took a two-game lead to Canada.
With a two-game lead and home field advantage, the Blue Jays had everything working for them. Yet, Game Three started differently. It was the Rangers who jumped out ahead, and had the Blue Jays trying to answer for runs. Game Three was by far the best of the series; it was a back and forth contest that would eventually see extra innings. Not enough credit can be given to both Matt Bush and Osuna. Both pitched multiple innings in relief. They were throwing gas, hitting 97-99 mph on the radar gun the whole way.
It wasn’t until a double by Donaldson in the bottom of the tenth inning that it seemed anyone was going to win the game. Banister chose to walk Edwin Encarnacion. This put runners on first and second with no outs. This proved to be then end for the Rangers. Bush struckwas able to strike out Bautista, taking a load off as he pumped his fist and shouted as Bautista walked out of the batter’s box. With one out, the Rangers had the Blue Jays where they wanted them. Texas was a double play turning machine this year, averaging 1.18 per game.
The double play would be the play ended their season. Russell Martin hit a hard ground ball to Elvis Andrus at short. At this point, Andrus had a choice. He could get the lead and fastest runner in Donaldson at third base, or attempt to turn two. He went with the later choice, getting Encarnacion at second. But Rougned Odor then threw the ball in the dirt, causing Mitch Moreland to come off the bag at first. Meanwhile, Donaldson never quit running and scored, becoming Toronto’s hero for the night.
In the end, it wasn’t a throwing error in Game Three that lost the series for the Rangers. It was the dominance and hunger of the Blue Jays. The Rangers, along with Ranger fans, caught still living in the moment of Odor punching Bautista. They should have focused more on finding ways to win ball games. Now, the Blue Jays are headed to the American League Championship Series, and the Rangers are headed home.