2015 American League Division Series 2
|2015 American League Division Series|
|Toronto Blue Jays
93 - 69 in the AL
|3 - 2
88 - 74 in the AL
The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers, three games to two, in the second American League Division Series of 2015, coming back from a two games to none deficit after losing the first two contests at home. The two teams had never previously met in the postseason, but the Jays were prohibitive favorites after a tremendous second half that saw them come from below .500 to almost end up with the best record in the American League. However, the Rangers made things interesting by ambushing the Jays in the first two contests at the Rogers Centre, before the Blue Jays used their powerful bats and deep pitching to win the final three games. The Blue Jays' middle of the order, consisting of 3B Josh Donaldson, RF Jose Bautista and DH Edwin Encarnacion proved too much to stop, as all three hit key homers in the final three games.
|1||Texas Rangers 5 Toronto Blue Jays 3||October 8||Yovani Gallardo (1-0) David Price (0-1)||3:30 pm|
|2||Texas Rangers 6 Toronto Blue Jays 4||October 9||Cole Hamels (0-0) Marcus Stroman (0-0)||12:30 pm|
|3||Toronto Blue Jays 5 Texas Rangers 1||October 11||Marco Estrada (1-0) Martin Perez (0-1)||8:00 pm|
|4||Toronto Blue Jays 8 Texas Rangers 4||October 12||R.A. Dickey (0-0) Derek Holland (0-1)||4:00 pm|
|5||Texas Rangers 3 Toronto Blue Jays 6||October 14||Cole Hamels (0-1) Marcus Stroman (0-0)||4:00 pm|
Game 1 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Yovani Gallardo (1-0); LP: David Price (0-1), SV: Sam Dyson (1)|
|Home Runs: TEX - Robinson Chirinos (1), Rougned Odor (1); TOR - Jose Bautista (1)|
- Attendance: 49,834
The Rangers surprised the Blue Jays in Game 1 with a 5-3 win, defeating American League ERA leader David Price in a game in which the main story was that three All-Star sluggers had to leave early because of injuries. It was the bottom of the Rangers' batting order that did the most damage, as a mere 5 hits translated into 5 runs. Price was facing Yovani Gallardo, who was a winner in spite of lasting only 5 innings.
After two scoreless innings, the Rangers struck first when Price plunked 2B Rougned Odor with a pitch and he moved to second on a ground out. CF Delino DeShields drove him in with a single, then he in turn moved to second on a ground out. 3B Adrian Beltre followed with a single, scoring DeShields for a 2-0 lead, but he hurt his back running to first and was replaced on defense by Hanser Alberto in the bottom of the inning. The Blue Jays cut the lead in half in the bottom of the 4th. LF Ben Revere singled to center and 3B Josh Donaldson drew a walk. RF Jose Bautista forced Donaldson on a ground ball, but Revere made it to third base and scored on a single by DH Edwin Encarnacion. However, with two on and one out, the Jays were unable to do any more damage.
The Rangers then added two more runs against Price in the 5th. As had been the case two innings earlier, Odor was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. This time, though, C Robinson Chirinos followed with a homer to centerfield to make the lead 4-1. The Jays immediately cut it by one run when C Russell Martin led off the bottom of the inning with a double and one out later, CF Kevin Pillar doubled as well. Pillar advanced to third base on a ground out by Revere, but manager John Gibbons then had to replace Donaldson by pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera. Donaldson had taken Odor's knee to the head when he successfully broke up a double play attempt on Bautista grounder in the 4th, and was affected by dizziness. With the top RBI man in the circuit unable to bat, the Jays could bot plate Pillar. In the 6th, Bautista greeted reliever Keone Kela with a homer to left center, cutting the Rangers' lead to 4-3, but the Jays would get no closer, and Bautista too would leave the game, in the 9th inning, with cramping in his right hamstring.
Kela retired the next three batters he faced after Bautista's homer, and the Rangers added an insurance run off Price in the 7th when Odor homered with one out, giving him three runs scored in the game. Jake Diekman pitched a perfect 7th and 8th inning, then Sam Dyson came to pitch the 9th. Encarnacion greeted him with a lead-off single, but Dyson struck out SS Troy Tulowitzki and induced 1B Justin Smoak to ground into a force play for the first two outs. Smoak advanced to second base on defensive indifference, but it turned out to be a disadvantage, as Martin hit a ball at 3B Alberto, who tagged Smoak for the final out.
Game 2 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Keone Kela (1-0); LP: LaTroy Hawkins (0-1), SV: Ross Ohlendorf (1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Josh Donaldson (1)|
- Attendance: 49,716
The Rangers once again beat the Blue Jays at home in Game 2 to take a stunning two games to none lead in the series, but this time it took 14 innings to come up with a winner. The match-up on the mound featured two late-season additions to their respective clubs, with trading deadline acquisition Cole Hamels starting for Texas, and Marcus Stroman, who made his season debut in September after coming back from a knee injury, for Toronto. The two had pitched well in recent weeks, but both allowed a few early runs before settling down. 3B Adrian Beltre was out of the game, replaced by Hanser Alberto after his early departure from Game 1, but both 3B Josh Donaldson and RF Jose Bautista were back for Toronto.
The Rangers struck immediately as CF Delino DeShields opened the game with a double and RF Shin-Soo Choo followed with an RBI single. DH Prince Fielder also singled to put Choo on third base with none out, then 1B Mitch Moreland hit a grounder to his opposite number, Chris Colabello, who threw home. C Russell Martin dropped the ball and was charged with an error as Choo scored a second run. There was still no one out and runners on first and second, but SS Elvis Andrus grounded out to advance the runners and LF Josh Hamilton grounded out to Colabello, who made a great play, tagging out Hamilton then running down Fielder who was caught in no man's land between third and home, for an unassisted double play. Having averted a potential big inning, the Blue Jays then got one run back when Donaldson homered off Hamels with one out. In the 2nd, 2B Rougned Odor drew a lead-off walk and made it all the way to third on C Chris Gimenez's grounder to first; the Jays challenged the call that Odor had made it safely to third on Colabello's relay to Davidson, but it was upheld after a video review. Alberto then followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-1, Rangers. However, Alberto gave the Jays an opening in the bottom of the inning when he mishandled SS Troy Tulowitzki's lead-off grounder, and Colabello followed with an automatic double. A single by Martin scored Tulo, but with Hamels in the ropes, CF Kevin Pillar grounded into a double play, tying the score, but quenching a potential big inning.
Both pitchers settled down after those early scores, and the next run only came in the bottom of the 5th. Pillar hit a pop-up down the first base line that fell in for a double, and 2B Ryan Goins bunted him to third base. LF Ben Revere singled to give the Jays their first lead of the Series, 4-3. That's how the score stayed until the 8th. Stroman allowed a lead-off single to DeShields in that frame and was lifted in favor of lefty Brett Cecil. Rangers manager Jeff Banister, taking a page out of the Blue Jays' playbook, had Choo bunt, and the strategy was successful, putting DeShields in scoring position. Cecil struck out Fielder, but Mike Napoli pinch-hit for Moreland, and John Gibbons decided not to go to a righthander. It cost him as Napoli singled to right, tying the game. Cecil then picked Napoli off first base for the final out, but he suffered a torn muscle in his calf on the play, making him unavailable for the remainder of the postseason.
Then began a game of nerves, as both teams dug into their bullpens and pulled out various strategic moves. Banister sent Sam Dyson to pitch for Hamels in the bottom of the 8th, and the Blue Jays managed to place Revere on second base with one out, thanks to an infield single and a stolen base. Bautista struck out for out number two, and Banister elected to walk DH Edwin Encarnacion intentionally. The move worked as Tulowitzki grounded out. Roberto Osuna and Jake Diekman both pitched a perfect 9th inning, sending the game into extra innings, and they both followed that by being perfect in the 10th as well. Mark Lowe came out to pitch the 11th and issued a pair of walks against his former team after one out, but he got Andrus to ground into a force out, and Aaron Loup retired Hamilton on a fly out. Shawn Tolleson took over for Texas and got three more straight outs. After Loup got the lead-off batter out in the 12th, Gibbons turned to Aaron Sanchez, and he got the next two batters. Colabello hit a lead-off single off Tolleson, giving the fans at Rogers Centre some hope. He was replaced by pinch-runner Dalton Pompey, but Martin popped up and Pillar struck out. Not being able to count on his teammates to gain ground, Pompey stole second base and then third base, but Goins was unable to cash him in, grounding out to second. The Rangers got a two-out single against Sanchez in the 13th, but nothing more, and rookie Keone Kela came in to pitch for Texas. He retired the first two batters, although Donaldson hit a ball in the stands but barely foul, before facing Bautista, who had homered off him Game 1, but he wisely pitched around him, issuing him a walk, then got Encarnacion to fly out.
It was now the 14th inning, and the Jays turned to veteran LaTroy Hawkins, the oldest player in the majors. He got the first two men out, but allowed an infield single to Odor, who beat a defensive shift. Gimenez then singled to right, putting Odor on second, as he barely averted Bautista's throw to catch him too far off the bag (the Jays were once again unsuccessful on a key challenge). Alberto was next up, and he singled to center, scoring Odor as both runners took an extra base on the throw from CF Pillar. Liam Hendriks came in to pitch, but he gave up the fourth consecutive two-out single of the inning, an infield hit by DeShields, to make it 6-4 for the Rangers. Veteran Ross Ohlendorf replaced the rookie Kela to attempt to get the save and he quickly struck out Tulowitzki and 1B Justin Smoak. He hit Martin with a pitch, but Pillar struck out as well and the Rangers were heading home one game away from eliminating the powerful Blue Jays. The 14 innings marked the longest postseason game in the history of both teams.
Game 3 @ Globe Life Park in Arlington
|WP: Marco Estrada (1-0); LP: Martin Perez (0-1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Troy Tulowitzki (1)|
- Attendance: 50,941
The series moved to Texas for Game 3, and while the Rangers had a chance to clinch a sweep, the match-up of starting pitchers was not favorable to them on paper: Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada was coming off the best season of his career which had seen him finish 5th in the American League with a 3.13 ERA, while in contrast, his opponent, Martin Perez, while talented, was only 3-6, 4.46 in 2015 after coming back from Tommy John surgery. This time, the game held to expectations, as Estrada proved a riddle for Texas batters to solve, while Toronto managed to get to Texas's young starter, although he was greatly helped by four double plays that only managed to delay the issue.
The game started off uneventfully as both starting pitchers retired the first six men they faced. In the 3rd, however, C Dioner Navarro led off with a double for Toronto and went to third on a single by CF Kevin Pillar. Perez then got 2B Ryan Goins to ground into a double play, but it was enough to put the first run across the plate. The Rangers finally got their first baserunner of the game when Hanser Alberto, still playing at 3B for the injured Adrian Beltre, hit an automatic double to center with two out, but Estrada then got CF Delino DeShields to fly out to center to end the inning. The Jays added a run in the 4th when 3B Josh Donaldson led off with a double and moved to third on a fly out by RF Jose Bautista. Perez then walked DH Edwin Encarnacion intentionally, a prudent move, but he made things more complicated when issued unintentional free passes to 1B Chris Colabello and to SS Troy Tulowitzki, forcing in a run. He got out of deep trouble by getting the slow-footed Navarro to ground into a double play, but Toronto was up, 2-0. More trouble followed in the 5th when Pillar singled to center then took second base when DeShields mishandled the hit; Goins moved him to third base with a sacrifice bunt, but once again the double play came to Perez's rescue, this time in the form of a line-out to second base by LF Ben Revere; 2B Rougned Odor immediately relayed to Alberto at third to catch Pillar before he could return to the bag. In the bottom of that inning, LF Josh Hamilton singled off Estrada with one out, for only the Rangers' second hit of the game, but he couldn't advance any further.
The 6th inning proved to be the key one for the Blue Jays. Perez returned to the mound in spite of having pitched in and out of trouble the last three innings, and trouble came calling again, with a capital T. Donaldson led off with an infield single and Bautista followed with a sharp one to center that moved Donaldson to third base. Rangers manager Jeff Banister now decided to replace Perez with rookie starter Chi Chi Gonzalez, but the youngster was coming into a nearly impossible situation, with a brace of very tough hitters due up. He walked Encarnacion to load the bases, but then almost got out of the ugly mess by inducing Colabello to hit a ground ball to 1B Mitch Moreland who started a 3-2-3 double play. Next up was the dangerous Tulowitzki, however, and he did not waste his opportunity, hitting a line drive over the left field fence for a three-run homer. That 5-0 lead was too much for Texas to overturn.
The Jays threatened again in the 7th when they put two on with two out, but veteran Ross Ohlendorf replaced Gonzalez to face Bautista and got him to pop up. SS Elvis Andrus then singled with one out in the bottom of the inning and moved to third on a single by Hamilton, while Hamilton took an extra base when Bautista bobbled the hit. The dangerous situation convinced Toronto manager John Gibbons to go to his bullpen, and he brought in Aaron Loup. He got Odor to ground out for the second out, although that allowed Andrus to score, as the Jays were conceding the run. The Rangers would get nothing more, however, as Mark Lowe then struck out C Robinson Chirinos to end the inning. Aaron Sanchez pitched a perfect 8th inning and while it was not a save situation, rookie closer Roberto Osuna was summoned for the 9th and he had not trouble either, getting the final three outs in order.
Game 4 @ Globe Life Park in Arlington
|WP: David Price (1-1); LP: Derek Holland (0-1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Josh Donaldson (2), Chris Colabello (1), Kevin Pillar (1)|
- Attendance: 47,679
The Blue Jays evened the series by winning Game 4 in a manner that was very familiar to anyone who had followed them all season, that is by beating their opponent into submission with a bunch of early runs. For Toronto, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was making his first career postseason appearance at age 40, while Derek Holland, a veteran of the Rangers' two World Series campaigns earlier in the decade, took the mound for Texas. Holland must have felt it was all a particularly vivid and horrendous nightmare, however.
LF Ben Revere led off the game for Toronto by dropping a bunt to the right side of the mound, which deflected off 2B Rougned Odor towards SS Elvis Andrus, who had no chance of getting him out. Two pitches later, 3B Josh Donaldson lined a ball over the right field fence, and it was 2-0. Holland retired a couple of batters, but 1B Chris Colabello hit another homer to right field, and it was already 3-0. The Rangers put a couple of men on with singles in the bottom of the 1st, but could not cash them in, and in the 2nd, CF Kevin Pillar homered to left center with one out. Dickey got the Rangers in order in the bottom of the inning, recording a pair of strikeouts, and in the 3rd, the Jays' barrage continued, as Donaldson drew a lead-off walk and RF Jose Bautista followed with a double. That was the end for Holland, as Colby Lewis, Texas's top winner in the regular season but skipped from the postseason rotation, took over on the mound. He could not stop the hemorrhage. DH Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball to Andrus, who managed to tag out Bautista who had strayed into no man's land, but Donaldson came in to score. Colabello then hit a double to left, and Encarnacion scored, then after a second out, C Russell Martin walked and Pillar singled, making the score 7-0.
The Blue Jays had scored enough runs to have a safe lead, but Texas managed to scratch a run in the bottom of the 3rd, when RF Shin-Soo Choo and 3B Adrian Beltre, back in the line-up, hit two-out singles and Dickey uncorked a wild pitch. Toronto stranded a pair of runners in both of the next two innings, then in the 5th, Dickey allowed a one-out single to C Robinson Chirinos then retired CF Delino DeShields on a fly ball for the second out. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons then made a surprising decision, taking out Dickey, who was having a perfectly fine game, and inserting ace starter David Price with a six-run lead. Gibbons explained that he wanted to guarantee a win in this game, but the move was a head-scratcher, given the big lead, and the fact that any extended outing by Price would make him unavailable for the decisive fifth game. Price ended the inning by getting Choo to line out to center, then stayed on to pitch a perfect 6th. Toronto then added another run in the 7th, on a double by Martin and a single by Pillar, to make it 8-1. In the bottom of the inning, Price allowed a two-out double to Odor and Chirinos followed with a single. In spite of the 8-2 lead, Price was still on the mound to start the 8th, and he allowed a lead-off single to Choo and another to DH Prince Fielder after one out; 1B Mitch Moreland grounded out to score one run, and Andrus singled to make the score 8-4. With a glimmer of hope left, Rangers manager Jeff Banister sent Drew Stubbs to pinch-hit, and Gibbons took out Price, sending in Aaron Sanchez; he struck out Stubbs to end the last reasonable hope by Texas of getting back in the game.
While the Blue Jays scored only once after the 3rd inning, they managed to put someone on base every single inning, and might well have scored more had they had not had a safe early lead. They did not mess with the bottom of the 9th though. Closer Roberto Osuna was sent to pitch and he made quick work of the Rangers, retiring them in order to send the series back to Toronto with he momentum now squarely back with the Blue Jays.
Game 5 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Aaron Sanchez (1-0); LP: Cole Hamels (0-1), SV: Roberto Osuna (1)|
|Home Runs: TEX - Shin-Soo Choo (1); TOR - Edwin Encarnacion (1), Jose Bautista (2)|
- Attendance: 49,742
The Blue Jays completed their remarkable comeback from two games down by taking Game 5, coming back from a 3-2 deficit with a four-run 7th inning and a key home run by team leader Jose Bautista. The game was marked by a bizarre play which allowed the Rangers to take the lead in the top of the 7th, almost causing a riot at Rogers Centre. Both teams bypassed their Game 1 starters in the contest, the Blue Jays having used David Price in relief in Game 4 and thus going with young Marcus Stroman, while the Rangers skipped Yovani Gallardo to turn to Cole Hamels, who had been tried and tested in such key situations when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rangers got off to a quick lead when Delino DeShields led off the game with a double and moved to third on a ground out by Shin-Soo Choo. Prince Fielder then hit a grounder to 1B Chris Colabello, who threw home, but DeShields slid safely for the first run. They threatened again in the 2nd, when Josh Hamilton drew a lead-off walk. Elvis Andrus tried to bunt him over, but Stroman fielded the ball and threw to SS Troy Tulowitzki to retire Hamilton. Rougned Odor followed with a single, but Andrus had to stop at second. Stroman struck out Chris Gimenez for the second out, then Andrus was caught stealing at third base, the call being upheld following a video review. The Blue Jays then put two men on with none out against Hamels in the bottom of the inning, but failed to score. In the 3rd, the Rangers increased their lead to 2-0 when Choo homered with one out. However, the Blue Jays replied in the bottom of the frame, with a one-out single by Ben Revere and a double by Bautista.
The score remained at 2-1 until the 6th when Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo homer to left with one out to tie the game. The stage was now set for an epic 7th inning. Aaron Sanchez took over for Stroman on the mound and he gave up a lead-off single to Odor. Gimenez executed the sacrifice bunt successfully and DeShields grounded to third, allowing Odor to advance another 90 feet. Then came one of the most bizarre and controversial plays in years. With Choo at bat, C Russell Martin threw the ball back to Sanchez, but it deflected off Choo's bat and Odor scored from third base. The Blue Jays immediately protested the call, claiming that Choo had committed interference and the ball should be ruled dead. With the crowd screaming in anger and pelting the field with debris, the umpires conferred but decided that there was no interference because Choo had not made any specific gesture to impede Martin's throw, and allowed the run to stand, Martin being charged with an error. Choo then struck out, but the Jays were down, 3-2, with time running out, all because of a completely freakish play.
Perhaps it was cosmic karma, but the Rangers suddenly became unable to field properly when they took the field in the bottom of the 7th. Martin was the first up, and he reached base on a fielding error by Andrus. Kevin Pillar followed with a grounder to first base; Mitch Moreland attempted a throw to second base to erase the lead runner, but it was off-target and everyone was safe. Dalton Pompey now ran for Martin, and the poor fielding continued. The Rangers were charged with their third straight error when Ryan Goins hit a ball to 3B Adrian Beltre, who made a good throw to SS Andrus at second, but Elvis dropped the ball and the bases were loaded with no one out. Revere followed by hitting another ball at Moreland, but this time he managed to throw home in time to get Pompey. The bases were still loaded, though, and Jeff Banister replaced Hamels with Sam Dyson who now had to face of the heart of the Blue Jays' batting order. First up was Josh Donaldson, who hit a pop-up that fell just out of Odor's reach. Pillar came in to score, but Revere, not knowing whether the ball would be caught or not, hesitated between first and second and was thrown out when Odor picked up the ball and threw to Andrus for the force out. The score was now tied, and Bautista stepped up. He crushed Dyson's pitch to left-center for a three-run homer and flipped his bat in celebration. The Rangers were incensed, but they had no one but themselves to blame for the crushing blow, as all four runs were unearned. The Blue Jays threatened to do more damage when Encarnacion and Colabello both singled, but Tulowitzki popped up to end one of the wildest innings in recent major league history.
The Rangers did attempt a comeback in the 8th. Fielder singled to lead off the inning against Sanchez but was forced out by Beltre. Moreland then drew a walk and John Gibbons decided to make an early call to closer Roberto Osuna. He displayed his electric stuff by striking out Hamilton and Andrus to end the inning. He then retired the Rangers in order in the 9th, ending the game by striking out pinch-hitters Mike Napoli and Will Venable and eliminating the Rangers, who were never able to finish the job after their first two stunning wins in Toronto. For the Blue Jays, it was their fifth straight win in a postseason series, dating back to their two World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
- Gregor Chisholm: "15 for '15: Wild 7th inning was one for the ages: Blue Jays-Rangers thrilled with dramatic, memorable ALDS frame", mlb.com, December 30, 2015. 
- Dave Sessions: "Toronto-bound Rangers reflect on wild ALDS", mlb.com, May 1, 2016. 
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series