Encarnacion walk-off home run wins wild card playoff for Blue Jays

Oct 5 2016, 2:12 am

It’s beginning to feel a lot like last year for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Playing in a one-game wild card playoff showdown against the Baltimore Orioles, they won in dramatic fashion, getting a three-run walk-off home run in the 11th inning from Edwin Encarnacion to take the game 5-2.

Here’s another angle:

“What a game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told Sportsnet’s Buck Martinez and Hazel Mae post-game. “Regardless of how it turned out, we entertained everybody. It was a well played game on both sides. It’s kind of appropriate to end it that way, in walk-off fashion. Big Eddie has been doing it all year. I’m proud of the guys.”

Jose Bautista gave the Blue Jays an early lead, hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning.

Marcus Stroman, a controversial choice to start for Toronto, was excellent. He pitched six innings, giving up just four hits.

Stroman’s only big mistake was giving up a Mark Trumbo two-run home run to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.

That’s the way things stayed until the fifth inning when the Jays’ bats came alive. Michael Saunders and Kevin Pillar hit back-to-back doubles, giving Toronto a runner on second and third for Ezequiel Carrera. Carrera hit a single, bringing home Saunders to tie the game.

That was the end of the night for Baltimore’s starting pitcher Chris Tillman. Tillman pitched four and a third innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs.

Things got crazy in the bottom of the seventh inning, when with two outs Melvin Upton Jr hit a deep fly ball to left field. Hyun-soo Kim caught it for the third out, having to dodge a can of beer that was thrown from some bonehead in the stands.

The Jays had a wonderful chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, after Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff double down the left field line. After Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked, Toronto failed cash-in. Bautista struck out and Russell Martin hit into an inning-ending double play.

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was injured in the 10th inning, having to come out of the game in favour of Francisco Liriano. Osuna participated in the champagne party in the dressing room afterwards, telling Sportsnet’s Barry Davis simply: “I’ll be good, don’t worry about it.”

A pair of singles from Devon Travis and Donaldson put two runners on for Encarnacion in the 11th inning. With one out and a runner on third, all Encarnacion needed to do was hit a fly ball. Instead he crushed it for a home run to win the game.

The Jays will move on to play the Texas Rangers, which promises to be a great series. Texas is the same team Toronto beat last year in the Division Series, and the same team where bad blood boiled over this season.

Game 1 goes on Thursday.

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