2016 American League Division Series 1
|2016 American League Division Series|
|Toronto Blue Jays
89 - 73 in the AL
|3 - 0
95 - 67 in the AL
The series was a rematch of the very emotional Division Series played the previous year between the same two teams, won by Toronto in five games after they had lost the first two. There was also a lot of bad blood between Toronto and Texas, stemming from incidents in that series and also from a fight between Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor earlier this season.
Toronto prevailed again, winning the first two games on the road before completing the sweep with a thrilling extra-inning game at the Rogers Centre.
- Chad Fairchild, Lance Barksdale, Sam Holbrook, Hunter Wendelstedt, Joe West (crew chief), Cory Blaser
|1||Toronto Blue Jays 10 Texas Rangers 1||October 6||Marco Estrada (1-0) Cole Hamels (0-1)||4:38 pm|
|2||Toronto Blue Jays 5 Texas Rangers 3||October 7||J.A. Happ (1-0) Yu Darvish (0-1)||1:08 pm|
|3||Texas Rangers 6 Toronto Blue Jays 7||October 9||Colby Lewis (0-0) Aaron Sanchez (0-0)||7:38 pm|
Game 1 @ Globe Life Park in Arlington
|WP: Marco Estrada (1-0); LP: Cole Hamels (0-1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Melvin Upton (1); Jose Bautista (1)|
- Attendance: 47,434
Game 1 of the much-anticipated series turned out to be a runaway win for the Blue Jays. It took a couple of innings for them to get going, but they struck hard in the 3rd against Texas ace Cole Hamels, a veteran postseason performer who simply did not have it that day. Things began to unravel when Ezequiel Carrera drew a one-out walk, and after a second out, Hamels threw a wild pitch, advancing Carrera to second. Josh Donaldson followed with a run-scoring double down the third base line, his presence on second base being upheld after a video review. Edwin Encarnacion then hit an infield single to put runners on the corners and Jose Bautista singled as well, driving in a second run. Hamels then walked Russell Martin to load the bases and next up was Troy Tulowitzki, who blew the game open with a triple to center, making it 5-0. The onslaught continued in the 4th as Melvin Upton led off with a homer. After one out, Devon Travis reached on an error by RF Shin-Soo Choo, then advanced to second on a passed ball by C Jonathan Lucroy. Donaldson followed with a single and the score was now 7-0. At that point, manager Jeff Banister replaced Hamels with Alex Claudio, but the damage was done.
Meanwhile, Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada was pitching a masterful game. Using a variety of change-ups, he was keeping the Rangers' hitters completely off-balance and cruising along. He completed 8 innings without giving up a run. In the top of the 9th, the Jays padded their lead against Jake Diekman as Bautista hit a three-run homer. Estrada allowed a lead-off triple to Elvis Andrus in the bottom of the 9th, finally giving the hometown fans something to cheer about. He then got Choo to ground out to first base; Andrus scored, ending the bid for a shutout,. John Gibbons then gave the ball to Ryan Tepera to get the final two outs, which he did. The big lead meant Gibbons did not have to warm up any of his top relievers, a nice result as there was some uncertainty about the availability of closer Roberto Osuna following his abrupt departure from the Wild Card Game two days earlier.
Game 2 @ Globe Life Park in Arlington
|WP: J.A. Happ (1-0); LP: Yu Darvish (0-1); SV: Roberto Osuna (1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Troy Tulowitzki (1), Kevin Pillar (1), Ezequiel Carrera (1), Edwin Encarnacion (1)|
- Attendance: 48,019
The pitching match-up in Game 2 featured J.A. Happ for the Blue Jays, one of the most successful pitchers in the majors since the beginning of August, 2015, against Yu Darvish, who had not long ago also been considered a member of the hurling elite, but whose career had been set back by a number of injuries recently. Contrary to what had been the case with Marco Estrada on the mound the previous day, the Rangers were able to get their share of base hits against Happ, but scoring runs was another story as it would be an afternoon of wasted opportunities. For their part, the Jays batters teed off seemingly at will on Darvish's pitches, bringing back reminiscences of the previous year's hitting exploits. For Toronto, 2B Devon Travis was unavailable because of an injury, so LF Ezequiel Carrera, one of the team's hottest hitters of late, was moved up from the 9th spot to lead-off, with Darwin Barney taking over for Travis at second base. The Rangers also made a couple of changes, putting Ryan Rua at first base in place of Mitch Moreland, and Nomar Mazara in right field, replacing Shin-Soo Choo.
After a quiet 1st inning, Toronto got the ball rolling in the 2nd when Jose Bautista led off with a walk, then after one out, Troy Tulowitzki homered to left-center for a 2-0 lead. It was a harbinger of things to come. The Rangers cut the Jays' lead by half in the 4th, after having stranded six batters through the first three innings against Happ. Mazara hit a single with two outs, and this was followed by another single, by Carlos Gomez. Ian Desmond singled as well to drive in Mazara, but the rally stalled when Carlos Beltran grounded out to end the inning, stranding two more baserunners. The Jays batters then went to work in the 5th, using the long ball as their weapon. Kevin Pillar led off the frame with a long ball to left, and after one out, Carrera, known more for his speed than his power, drove one out to center field. One out later, Edwin Encarnacion completed the damage with another homer to left, bringing the score to 5-1 in the visitors' favor.
Tony Barnette took over on the mound for the Rangers at the start of the 6th. For his part, Happ, who had pitched a perfect 5th, was tagged for his 9th hit of the game by Rua to lead off the bottom of the inning, and he ceded way to Joe Biagini. 9 hits in 5+ innings is a lot, but to Happ's credit, they were all singles, and he issued only one walk, preventing the Rangers from taking extra bases. Biagini retired the next three batters, but in the 7th he allowed a lead-off double to Desmond, who then advanced to third on a ground ball by Beltran. Next up was veteran Adrian Beltre, who tapped a ball to 3B Josh Donaldson. Desmond made a dash for home, but was tagged out on a close play that was subject to a video review. Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons then called on lefty Brett Cecil to face Rougned Odor, but the second baseman drew a walk. Out went Cecil, in came veteran Jason Grilli who got Jonathan Lucroy to pop up for the third out. The Rangers had stranded two more baserunners and wasted one more golden opportunity.
All the missed chances cost the Rangers dearly when they finally did mount a decent rally in the 8th, but were still only able to close the lead to two runs. With Francisco Liriano now pitching, Moreland, pinch-hitting for Rua, led off with a double but Elvis Andrus lined out to center for the first out. Robinson Chirinos, batting for Mazara, then drew a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Jared Hoying. Gomez was next up and drilled a line drive up the middle that caromed off the back of Liriano's head and into center field. Moreland scored, Hoying made it to third, and a woozy Liriano had to leave the ball game, and he sustained a commotion, putting him out for the remainder of the series. Closer Roberto Osuna was called in to get the last five outs in a sticky situation, especially given the fact he had had to leave the Wild Card Game with a shoulder issue earlier in the week. He got Desmond to ground out, but Hoying scored on the play, cutting the lead to 5-3. C Russell Martin then allowed a passed ball, on which Gomez advanced to third base. However, Osuna ended the inning by striking out Beltran, the Rangers leaving more cash on the table. Closer Sam Dyson made quick work of Toronto's batters in the top of the 9th. Once again, the Rangers managed to get something going in the bottom half, as Beltre led off with a double, but again, as had been the case all afternoon, they were unable to cash him in. Osuna struck out Odor then got Lucroy to pop up to second for the second out, with Beltre unable to advance. Texas's last hope was Moreland, but he flied out to center to end the game. The Rangers now had to head to Toronto trailing two games to none. Their only consolation was that their opponents, the Blue Jays, had been in exactly the same situation a year earlier and had managed to eliminate the Rangers: they now needed to re-edit that unlikely comeback from the brink.
Game 3 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Roberto Osuna (1-0); LP: Matt Bush (0-1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Edwin Encarnacion (2), Russell Martin (1); TEX - Elvis Andrus (1), Rougned Odor (1)|
- Attendance: 49,555
The Rangers were talking a good game before Game 3, stating that veteran Colby Lewis was battle-tested and the man they really wanted on the mound in a situation where the season was on the line, but meanwhile the Blue Jays were secretly licking their chops at the thought of facing a pitcher who had struggled badly after missing a good part of the season with an injury. On paper, the match-up with American League ERA and winning percentage leader Aaron Sanchez seemed to be a complete mismatch.
In any case, the Rangers got to Sanchez quickly, as Carlos Gomez led off the game with a walk, stole second base and moved to third on a ground out by Ian Desmond. He scored when Carlos Beltran grounded out to first base, the Rangers having got on the board without the benefit of a hit. In the bottom of the inning, the Blue Jays lit up Lewis, however, as Ezequiel Carrera led off with a single and Edwin Encarnacion hit a huge homer to left. After two outs, it was Russell Martin's turn to jump on one of Lewis's pitches, also driving it behind the left field fence for a 3-1 lead. Both teams went down in order in the 2nd but Elvis Andrus opened the 3rd by hitting a homer to dead center. Carrera opened the bottom of that inning with a sharp single to right. He stole second and Josh Donaldson followed by slicing a ball to the right field corner which fell just fair and bounced into the stands for an automatic double. It was now 4-2 and Jeff Banister did not hesitate to replace Lewis, bringing in rookie Tony Barnette. However, Encarnacion singled to center to drive in another run. At 5-2, and the Jays seemed on their way to an easy win, while the Rangers would have to use a number of relievers just to finish the game. But they did not lie down and go quietly.
In the 4th, Sanchez, who was alternating between some brilliant pitches and others that were way off the mark, walked Beltran to start off things. Adrian Beltre forced him out, but the Jays were unable to turn two and when Rougned Odor drove a pitch beyond the center field fence, it was worth two runs and cut down the Jays' lead to 5-4. Sanchez issued another walk before getting Andrus to fly out. He seemed not to be long for the game at that point, but in fact, that out started a string of six consecutive batters to go down as Sanchez suddenly looked very sharp, impressively striking out the side in the 5th. Meanwhile, the Rangers were cycling through relief pitchers like they were going out of style, with Alex Claudio coming in in the 4th and Jeremy Jeffress in the 5th. A pair of double play grounders kept the Jays from adding to their lead, so it was still 5-4 after Sanchez had retired the first two batters in the 6th, pitching coach Pete Walker came out to talk to him. The reason wasn't clear as the young pitcher was cruising at that point, but he began to lose his command immediately afterwards. He walked Odor and allowed a single to Jonathan Lucroy and was replaced by rookie Joe Biagini. Biagini had been very sharp all year, but tonight, he gave up a long drive to left-center to Mitch Moreland. CF Kevin Pillar ran at full speed towards the ball, managed to get a glove on it, but could not make the catch. Both runners scored and the huge noisy crowd suddenly went silent as Texas was up, 6-5.
The Rangers' lead did not last for very long, however. In the bottom of the 6th, Troy Tulowitzki singled with one out and with lefty Michael Saunders due up, Banister removed Jeffress in favor of Jake Diekman. Melvin Upton pinch-hit and doubled to center, with Tulowitzki stopping at third. Diekman walked Pillar intentionally to load the bases and Banister brought in yet another reliever, Keone Kela. He came out throwing major heat, but also was a bit wild, almost sending a pitch to the backstop in getting Darwin Barney to pop out to third for the second out. But facing Carrera, he threw another pitch low and away, and this time Lucroy could not get a glove on it; it went to the screen for a passed ball and Tulowitzki scored the tying run before Carrera drove a ball to the right field corner; however, Nomar Mazara caught it on a full run to end an eventful inning.
The 6-6 tie lasted for a while. Biagini retired the Rangers in order in the 7th, as did Kela to the Blue Jays. In the 8th, John Gibbons called on his usual set-up man, Jason Grilli, and he retired the two men he faced before lefty Brett Cecil was summoned to face Odor; he got him to pop up to the infield for the third out. Banister replied by bringing rookie Matt Bush, who was simply electrifying. Throwing fastballs around 100 mph and sliders at 93 and never missing the strike zone, he had the Jays completely muzzled in the 8th and 9th as he retired all six men he faced. Meanwhile, Jays closer Roberto Osuna, who had pitched a lot in the last week, was once again called upon in a tight situation. His stuff may not have been the equal of Bush's, but he also got the Rangers in order in the 9th, and again in the 10th.
Banister had a difficult decision to make as the bottom of the 10th began. He had been profligate with relievers earlier in the game and his options were the following: Bush going into uncharted territory with a third inning of work; calling in closer Sam Dyson for two innings, knowing he had been the one who had given up the iconic homer to Jose Bautista a year earlier; or using one of his starters. He rolled the dice with Bush. He was still throwing hard, but by now the Jays had begun to figure him out. Donaldson led off with a double to center. The scorching-hot Encarnacion was walked intentionally, setting up a confrontation with Bautista. Bush ran up a full count, then struck out Joey Bats on a high fastball outside the strike zone for the first out. Up next was Russell Martin. As he explained, he just wanted to get a ball in play to make things happen. That he did, but it was an apparent double play grounder to Andrus at short. Andrus relayed to Odor at second to get Encarnacion, but Odor's throw to first was off-line, allowing Martin to reach safely. Moreland briefly dropped the ball, and that was all Donaldson needed to head home at full steam; diving head-first, he touched home plate with his left hand just ahead of Moreland's relay to Lucroy, and pandemonium broke out in the Rogers Centre. The Rangers tried a challenge out of desperation, hoping that Encarnacion would be called out for sliding too aggressively into second, but there was nothing there. The run was upheld and the Blue Jays were headed to the ALCS.
- Gregor Chisholm: "Blue Jays set to renew rivalry with Rangers: Bautista: 'We just have to keep our emotions in check'", mlb.com, October 5, 2016. 
- Michael Clair: "Eight things Blue Jays fans can be thankful for after their sweep of the Rangers", "Cut 4", mlb.com, October 10, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off delivers dream rematch: Blue Jays vs. Rangers", USA Today Sports, October 5, 2016. 
- Mike Petriello: "Rangers-Blue Jays: Position-by-position ALDS look: Toronto won 4 of 7 regular-season meetings in 2016", mlb.com, October 6, 2016. 
- T.R. Sullivan: "After posting AL's best record, Rangers' exit 'hurts': Abrupt departure from ALDS ends Texas' season", mlb.com, October 10, 2016. 
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series