The weather matched the mood at Globe Life Park this afternoon, as grey skies and an oppressive mist made fans sitting in the seats as miserable as the scoreline ended, as Texas’ second “ace” pitcher faltered in the early afternoon.
The game started seemingly positive for Texas as Carlos Beltrán beat out an errant throw from Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson to record the first hit for either team, and was advanced to second on an Adrián Beltré walk, all with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. Rougned Odor grounded out to Edwin Encarnacion at first to end the inning, but Texas worked Happ for 20 pitches.
Toronto struck for the first runs of the game in the top of the second, with Troy Tulowitzki homering after a Jose Bautista lead-off walk. Darvish got out of the inning with no further runs allowed, but the game’s tone had been set.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Ryan Rua and Elvis Andrus singled back-to-back off Happ, but were left stranded by two consecutive strikeouts looking from Nomar Mazara and Carlos Gomez, both of whom took personal issue with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale’s zone.
Darvish hit the first batter of the third, second baseman Darwin Barney, but was able to work around the baserunner to keep the Jays to their two run lead. In the bottom of the third, Ian Desmond led off with a single to centerfield, but the Rangers, though they overall were making more contact off Happ than off Estrada in Game One, weren’t able to take advantage of the hit.
After another scoreless inning from Darvish, one in which he looked as strong as he has at any point this season, the Rangers worked some two-out hitting, with three straight singles bringing in their first run of the game. Nomar Mazara scored on the RBI single to center by Ian Desmond, and though Carlos Beltran grounded out to first, Texas pulled within one for the first time all series.
That close margin was not to stay, though. Darvish allowed three home runs across the span of the bottom of the fifth, solo shots to Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, and Edwin Encarnacion, stretching Toronto’s lead to 5-1. Though he got out of the fifth only allowing those three runs, Darvish was relieved by Tony Barnette to begin the sixth, who himself worked around a single to keep the deficit to four runs.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ left the game after Ryan Rua’s leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth inning, relieved by right-hander Joe Biagini, who mowed down the next three hitters to diminish Rangers’ fans hopes. Barnette added another solid inning of work, setting up the Rangers to attempt yet another comeback win beginning in the bottom of the seventh.
Ian Desmond led off the inning with the Rangers’ first extra-base hit of the game, a double to right field. He advanced to third on a groundout from Carlos Beltran, but was thrown out trying to take home on an Adrian Beltre fielder’s choice. A rare Rougned Odor walk gave the Rangers two men on with two out, but the immediate chances of a rally were extinguished when Jonathan Lucroy fouled out to Edwin Encarnacion at first.
Matt Bush made his postseason debut with a scoreless inning, working around a two-out walk to Russell Martin.
Mitch Moreland pitch-hit for Ryan Rua to lead off the bottom of the eighth, and justified manager Jeff Banister’s decision immediately, smacking a double to right field. Elvis Andrus had a hit stolen from him on a highlight-reel sliding catch by Kevin Pillar, but a walk from pinch-hitter Robinson Chirinos and then a single by Carlos Gomez (one that unfortunately came off the head or neck of Francisco Liriano. Liriano was eventually taken to the hospital with his status unclear) put the Rangers within three runs with only one out. An RBI ground-out from Ian Desmond scored Jared Hoying, pinch-running for Chirinos, reduced the lead to two, where it would stay after a Carlos Beltran strikeout.
Jeff Banister did not save his closer for a lead, bringing in Sam Dyson to attempt to hold the Jays to their two-run advantage in the top of the ninth. Dyson did just that, working a clean one-two-three inning, setting the stage for what could have been yet another Texas late-innings comeback.
Unfortunately for Texas, Toronto’s closer Roberto Osuna, who allowed the second run scored by Texas in the bottom of the eighth, regained his normal abilities and earned a five-out save, despite allowing a leadoff double to Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the ninth. A Rougned Odor strikeout, Jonathan Lucroy foul out, and Mitch Moreland fly out ended the game with Beltre still on second.
After Darvish’s five runs in five innings, Texas’ bullpen continued their streak of excellence, recording four more innings of scoreless relief. Tony Barnette pitched for the second day in a row, and threw two innings of one-hit, one strikeout ball, followed by solid innings from Matt Bush and Sam Dyson. The Rangers’ offense piled up 13 hits, but only managed to get two of those with runners in scoring position.
Texas now needs to win two games in Toronto in order to force the series back to Texas for a decisive Game Five. Sunday’s starter for Texas will be Colby Lewis, against young Toronto star Aaron Sanchez.
Follow Kate Morrison on Twitter @unlikelyfanatic.