Key moments from Blue Jays wild-card game win
Published Wednesday, October 5, 2016 10:26AM EDT
If you prioritized sleep over home runs, you may have missed out on the action of the dramatic wild-card game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. To help you survive the watercooler chit chat, here’s a quick roundup of some key moments from the game.
Edwin Encarnacion’s walk-off homer:
In the 11th inning, Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion smashed the ball far out to left field for a three-run home run to win the game 5-2 over the Orioles. As the crowd went wild, Encarnacion threw his arms up in the air and dropped his bat in celebration before his teammates stormed the field to congratulate him. Drew Fairservice, the host of the fan podcast ‘Birds all Day’, told CTV’s Your Morning that the winning home run couldn’t have come from a better player.
“He (Encarnacion) rejuvenated his career in Toronto,” Fairservice said. “It was a huge moment for him and a great moment for the city.”
Marcus Stroman’s start:
Despite the concerns of many baseball analysts and fans alike, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons chose Marcus Stroman over left-hander Francisco Liriano to start Tuesday night’s game. Under intense pressure, Stroman pitched six innings and only allowed four hits. Besides giving up a two-run home run from Orioles’ heavyweight Mark Trumbo in the fourth inning, Stroman had a strong showing. Fairservice said he believed Gibbons made the right decision to go with the young pitcher.
“Stroman was a great matchup for all of the big right-handed at bats in the Orioles line up,” Fairservice said. “He did an amazing job keeping the ball on the ground, which is his speciality.”
At the top of the fourth inning, Blue Jays’ centre-fielder Kevin Pillar made a remarkable leap to catch Manny Machado’s hard hit to the outfield. A relieved Stroman clapped with his hands above his head to show his appreciation for Pillar’s save. The Blue Jays defence followed that catch with a number of other impressive plays including when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki snagged Jonathan Schoop’s grounder and threw it perfectly to first base in the fifth inning. Josh Donaldson also made an impressive running throw in the seventh inning to Encarnacion on first base to secure the out.
The Blue Jays bullpen silenced their critics by pitching a combined five scoreless innings before Encarnacion’s homer ended the game. Brett Cecil, Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli, Roberto Osuna and Francisco Liriano held their own against the Orioles’ celebrated relief pitchers.
In a move Orioles manager Buck Showalter may lament, Baltimore didn’t even end up using their star closer, Zach Britton, who had 47 saves in the regular season. Britton warmed up three times Tuesday night, but it was Ubaldo Jimenez who pitched the final inning for the Orioles.
The Rogers Centre was filled with 49,934 fans that stood, yelled and cheered throughout the entire game. Fairservice joked that if the roof of the dome hadn’t already been open for the game, the sheer noise from fans would have blown it right off. Encarnacion’s winning home run inspired such a loud response from the crowd chanting “Eddy! Eddy! Eddy!” that viewers watching on TV screens could see the cameras vibrate. A low point during the game came when one thoughtless fan threw a beer can onto the field just barely missing Orioles’ outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim in the seventh inning. Fairservice said the careless move could have cost the Blue Jays the game if Kim had been injured.
“That game could have gone completely the other way after a moment like that,” he said.
Still Fairservice maintained that the rest of the crowd was great during the game and they looked like they were all having an amazing time.
“When that place gets full there’s no place like it,” Fairservice said.
The Blue Jays will face off against the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series beginning on Oct. 6 in Arlington, TX. The highly-anticipated series is expected to be exciting because it will be a rematch of last year’s five-game series which saw the Blue Jays advance. Thursday will be the first time the rival teams have met since Rangers’ Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista during a game earlier this season.