AL Wild Card: After 11, Encarnacion’s Walk-Off Homer Advances Jays To ALDS
It all comes down to this, the American League Wild Card Game. While making the playoffs is exhilarating for any player and their team, a one-game playoff forces teams to give everything they have in nine innings to secure a trip to the ALDS.
As American League East division-mates met just one more time this season, the energy inside the Rogers Centre was so intense that the stadium’s roof was open for a post-season game for the first time in team history.
After a perfect first inning by Baltimore Orioles’ RHP Chris Tillman and Toronto Blue Jays’ RHP Marcus Stroman, Jose Bautista homered the first run of the postseason in the second inning.
With a 3-1 count, Bautista hit a solo homer to left field to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. This was his fifth homerun in twelve postseason career games.
In the top of the fourth, Adam Jones opened the inning with a single to right field. Then, with two outs Mark Trumbo started the postseason just as he left off this regular season, the homerun leader hit a two run homerun off of Stroman to give the O’s the 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, with runners on second and third, Ezequiel Carrera hit a RBI single on a line drive to center; sending home Michael Saunders to tie the game at 2 runs apiece.
After allowing the tying run, Baltimore would then replace Tillman with reliever Mychal Givens; he then was able to get Devon Travis to ground into a double-play to end the inning.
In 4.1 innings pitched, Tillman allowed two runs on four hits; walking one and striking out four.
Stroman’s night was over after six innings of work while allowing two runs and four hits while striking out six hitters.
It then became a battle of the bullpens as the scoreboard stayed tied. Brett Cecil and Joe Biagini shared pitching duties in the seventh for the Jays and were then relieved by Jason Grilli who worked a clean eighth inning.
For the Orioles, after getting Tillman out of trouble in the fifth inning, Givens pitched 2.1 innings pitched with three strikeouts.
Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth inning and then after recording the first out of the tenth, teammate Edwin Encarnacion noticed an apparent injury with Osuna and alerted the dugout. After a brief conference on the mound, Osuna left the game, on his own power, under the supervision of the team trainer.
In the bottom of the 11th with Orioles’ starter Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound, and runners on the corners, Edwin Encarnacion came up with another clutch hit, as only he could, with a walk-off homerun to secure the Jays’ 5-2 victory.
And now, one question that will stay with O’s fans, “Where was Zach Britton?”
The Blue Jays will now face the AL West winning Texas Rangers in the ALDS which begins on Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.
Mark Trumbo: 1 for 4; HR; 2RBIs
Adam Jones: 1 for 4; R
Toronto Blue Jays:
Jose Bautista: 1 for 3; HR
Edwin Encarnacion: 1 for 4; HR; 3 RBIs
Josh Donaldson: 2 for 5; R
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