The Toronto Blue Jays are headed back to the American League Championship Series after a walk-off win in extra innings.
Josh Donaldson was the hero in this one. His leadoff double in the 10th put a runner in scoring position, and his smart base running won the game for the Blue Jays.
“I got to third base pretty quick, I was able to see the throw go low and him trying to make the attempt for the pick,” Donaldson said, describing the play after the game. “Once I saw him bobble it, I had to go.”
Blue Jays win the game 7-6, and sweep the series 3-0.
The Texas Rangers were looking for something good to happen to them in the series, and they got that right away in the form of a leadoff walk for Carlos Gomez. Gomez stole second, followed by two ground-outs to manufacture the Rangers’ first run of the game, and their first lead of the series.
That good feeling didn’t last long, as the Blue Jays’ hot bats went to work again in the bottom half of the inning.
Ezequiel Carrera led-off the inning with a single. After losing his bat into the stands on the previous pitch, Edwin Encarnacion launched a bomb to left field in the form of a two-run homer.
Fans have thrown nothing on the field tonight, but in the course of 2 pitches, Edwin Encarnacion put both a bat and a ball in the stands.
— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) October 9, 2016
Two batters later and Russell Martin extended the lead to 3-1, with a line drive home run to centre field. Martin became the seventh Blue Jays batter to hit a home run in the series.
After watching the Jays hit home runs with regularity for three games, the Rangers finally got one of their own when Elvis Andrus led-off the third inning with a solo home run.
But just like the first, the Blue Jays outdid the Rangers in the bottom half of the inning.
After a leadoff single by Carrera, he stole second base. That was followed up by a blooper by Donaldson that landed just inside the right field line and bounced out of play for a ground-rule double that scored Carrera.
That was it for Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who left the game having given up five hits. Tony Barnette came in to pitch, but the result was the same for Texas as Encarnacion singled-home Donaldson in the next at-bat to make the score 5-2.
The new Coca Cola commercial was the talk of Twitter during this one. It drew, err, mixed reviews.
@RobTheHockeyGuy HATE IT!!
— Tiffany F (@ynaffit79) October 10, 2016
— Jason (@jayhamilton87) October 10, 2016
@RobTheHockeyGuy Never drinking coke again
— Justin Sarris (@justinsarris) October 10, 2016
What fresh hell is this Coca-Cola Blue Jays commercial?
— Dadiel Dadner (@ADanielWagner) October 10, 2016
— Sean Amato (@JSJamato) October 9, 2016
— Justin (@WildcatOil) October 9, 2016
It seemed like the only people that liked it were the ones that remembered the commercial from 1993.
Ok, back to the game.
Texas began to get to Sanchez in the fourth inning.
After Sanchez walked Carlos Beltran, public enemy #1 Roughned Odor hit a two-run home run to put the Rangers within one.
When Sanchez walked a second batter in the inning, a visit to the mound by the Jays’ pitching coach appeared to settle him down. He retired the next six batters in a row, including striking out the side in the fifth.
This has not been Aaron Sanchez's best start, but he just struck out the side in the fifth. Locking in?
— Israel Fehr (@israelfehr) October 10, 2016
With two outs, he was dialled in in the sixth inning too. Then, inexplicably, he got another visit to the mound. Whatever was said didn’t seem to help, as Sanchez proceeded to walk Odor and give up a single to Jonathan Lucroy.
Just like that, Sanchez’s day was done.
Enter Joe Biagini who promptly gave up a double to Mitch Moreland, with Kevin Pillar unable to make a catch that would have made Superman proud. The Rangers led 6-5.
It didn’t take Toronto long to tie things back up. In the bottom half of the inning they got a single from Troy Tulowitzki, a double from pinch hitter Melvin Upton Jr, and an intentional walk from Kevin Pillar to load the bases. After Darwin Barney popped out (boy did they miss Devon Travis in a moment like that), a passed ball by Lucroy resulted in the tying run, 6-6.
Full credit to the Rangers’ bullpen for slowing down the Blue Jays’ attack. After they came into the game, they gave up just four hits and no earned runs to get the game to extra innings.
As we got into extra innings, it was the battle between closers, as Roberto Osuna and Matt Bush each pitched multiple innings.
Donaldson led-off the 10th inning with a double, putting the Jays in a great spot. An intentional walk to Encarnacion and a strikeout to Jose Bautista set the stage for Russell Martin.
Martin looked like he would hit into an inning-ending double play, but a bad throw by Odor allowed an opportunity for Donaldson. He took full advantage, racing to home plate to sweep away the Rangers.
Toronto moves on to the ALCS, where they’ll play the winner of the Boston-Cleveland series.