Despite the surprising start of the Texas Rangers in the win or go home game three, the Toronto Blue Jays pulled out the victory and ensured their playoff run lasts at least one more day. Still down 2-1 however, Toronto will have to do it all again today if they hope to have a shot at game five and a chance to reach the ALCS (4.05pm ET Monday).
In front of a sold out Rogers Centre crowd, enjoying their first postseason appearance since 1993, the Blue Jays failed to send their fans home happy. Texas, who finished the regular season as a 45-36 road team, one of the best records of all playoff teams, came into Toronto and behind the slugging of Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor, defeated David Price and the hometown Jays. Yovani Gallardo picked up the win and Texas went into game two feeling pretty good. After all, they had Cole Hamels ready to take the mound.
It took 14 innings to decide a winner between the Jays and Rangers in game two, but after four two-out singles in that final frame, the Rangers came out on top by a score of 6-4. Hamels, whose playoff experience includes one of the best performances ever by a pitcher (2008: 4-0, 30 SO, 1.80 ERA), continued to deliver the way he has since he was traded to Texas. Hamels pitched seven strong innings and gave up just two earned. The Rangers errors allowed two more runs to score, ultimately contributing to an even score at the end of regulation. Texas’ bullpen tossed seven scoreless post-Hamels, with the offense scoring the tying run in the eighth and winning in the 14th.
It was all playing out to form for the Rangers. They had managed to keep the Blue Jays, despite their AL-best 53-28 home record, out of the win column. Considering Toronto’s sub-.500 winning percentage on the road, the second worst of all division winners (LA was 37-44), Texas looked to have a decided advantage back in Arlington. But Toronto, who had been on an offensive tear leading up to the postseason, finally found their bats. With two on and two out, Troy Tulowitzki secured his first postseason hit, a three-run home run. It gave Toronto a 5-0 lead and the pitching did the rest, shutting down the Rangers for just one run on five hits.
Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Game Four Preview
They say momentum is everything in games like these and if that’s the case, it looks to have shifted in the favor the Blue Jays. With everything on the line, Toronto played like the team everyone knew them to be. They played like the team that dominated in the second half of the season, that was scoring runs on a torrid offensive pace. If Toronto can continue to do that, they’ve got a great shot at evening the series in game four and then being able to win back at home.
In order to get to the ALCS however, Toronto has to get past Texas’ own offense, which has shown itself to be capable of scoring runs at a high level as well. This is a team that boasts Josh Hamilton (.253 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI), Adrian Beltre (.287 AVG, 18 HR, 83 RBI; status unknown for game four due to a back injury), Shin-Soo Choo (.276 AVG, 22 HR, 82 RBI), Prince Fielder (.305 AVG, 23 HR, 98 RBI) and the list goes on. Yet of all these playoff-veterans and experienced ball players, perhaps the most important to Texas’ run has been a 21-year-old second year player named Rougned Odor.
In the regular season, Odor averaged .261 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI. He’s only had two hits in 10 at bats in the playoffs, but each of his at bats has been impactful. He has a home run, he’s spark plugged the offense and most importantly, he’s scored five of Texas’ 12 runs. He had the team’s lone RBI in their game three loss.
Odor is the Rangers’ X-Factor and if he can get on base and be involved in the offense like he has, especially in the first two games, the Rangers should be considered the favorite to win the first round series.
Toronto’s X-factor is the AL’s RBI (123) and run (122) king, Josh Donaldson. Throughout the regular season, Donaldson was the guy in Toronto. He led the offense with 41 home runs and a .297 batting average. He helped the Blue Jays get to the playoffs and in game three he again led the way with two hits and a walk in his four plate appearances.
Just like the Rangers however, beyond Donaldson, Toronto is loaded with talent. This was the team that finished the regular season first in runs, OBP and slugging, and second in batting average. That team finally showed up on Sunday, but still wasn’t running at full steam. If Toronto hits that stride, things look promising, especially given today’s pitching match-up.
(TOR) RA Dickey vs (TEX) Derek Holland
RA Dickey (pictured) is a rare breed. He’s a knuckleballer in an age that just doesn’t make them like that anymore. It’s likely the reason that has kept Dickey around even still at the ripe old age of 40. The Toronto offense has certainly powered this team to the top but Dickey played a huge role as well. In the second half of the season, the 12-year veteran was 8-1 with a 2.80 ERA. Not to mention, over the past five years, he’s really shut down the Texas hitters.
This is Dickey’s first playoff start though, something that can’t be said for Derek Holland.
Holland has had an up-and-down postseason but good or bad, he’s never lost a start and was one of the best pieces of the 2011 starting staff that went to the World Series. Against the Blue Jays, Holland has struggled at times, but that playoff pedigree and experience looks to bode well against an offense that has torched him at times in the past five seasons.
Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Betting Picks
When the playoffs started Toronto, due to the best second half of all teams, had become the favorites to go to the World Series. Their offense is crucial so what it comes down to is if they show up like they did in game three. The match-up favors Toronto and the break-out seems to as well. Holland may not have lost but there’s a first time for everything.
- Take the Blue Jays to win in game four @ -133 on the moneyline with 5Dimes Sportsbook and take this one back for the deciding game five in Toronto.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.