DALLAS - Going into this game, it seemed that Colby Lewis was going to drag this team into a Game 4 in order for them to have the hopes of a Game 5. Instead, Lewis ended up only factoring in as a footnote in a game that had more twists than a desperate for ratings network drama, but the same conclusion as last year’s edition - the Rangers being eliminated from the postseason.
Though Texas struck first for the first time all series, pushing across a run thanks to a Carlos Gomez leadoff walk and a few groundouts in the top of the first, Toronto struck back against Lewis in the most predictable way possible for a Lewis start - a pair of home runs.
Ezequiel Carrera walked to begin the home half of the first, and an Edwin Encarnacion home run gave the Jays a 2-1 lead. Lewis got Jose Bautista to look at an 87 MPH fastball over the plate for a strikeout looking, but gave up a solo home run to Russell Martin on the second pitch of the next inning, extending Toronto’s lead to two runs.
After a quiet second, Elvis Andrus put some energy back into the Texas squad with a solo home run to left-center, his first career postseason home run. The next two hitters for Texas would go quietly, though, leaving Texas to trail 3-2, though not for much longer. A leadoff single from Carrera and a ground-rule double from Josh Donaldson gave Toronto back a two-run lead, and knocked Colby Lewis from the game.
Tony Barnette relieved Lewis, attempting to extend his three-inning scoreless streak in the playoffs so far. A single for Edwin Encarnacion scored Donaldson, but Barnette allowed no further runs through the bottom of the third, sending the Rangers to the fourth trailing 5-2.
Rougned Odor came to the plate with Adrian Beltre on with one out in the top of the fourth, to resounding boos in the Rogers Center. He responded to the crowd’s energy by hitting home run to deep centerfield, a two-run shot to pull the Rangers back within one.
Alex Claudio relieved Tony Barnette in the bottom of the fourth, holding Toronto scoreless with the help of his third double-play induced this series. The score remained the same after Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez struck out the Texas side swinging. Claudio then got the first hit of the bottom of the fifth, but was lifted for Jeremy Jeffress after allowing a ringing single to Josh Donaldson. Jeffress allowed a walk in the first postseason appearance of his career but induced an inning-ending double-play to keep the Jays from adding to their lead.
After two weak outs, Sanchez allowed a walk to Rougned Odor in the top of the sixth, followed by a Jonathan Lucory single, his first hit of the postseason. This ended Sanchez’s night, and Toronto brought in Joe Biagini, and Mitch Moreland, fresh off ending an 0-for-22 streak in Game 2 immediately hit a double just off the glove of a diving Kevin Pillar, scoring both Odor and Lucroy to give Texas their first lead since the top of the first.
Going into the bottom of the sixth, Jeremy Jeffress struck out the first batter, Russell Martin, but allowed a single to Troy Tulowitzki. Jeff Banister brought in Jake Diekman to face pinch-hitter Melvin Upton, Jr, who promptly doubled into deep left field. Tulowitzki held at third, however, and after intentionally walking Kevin Pillar, Keone Kela came in to relieve Diekman, who recorded no outs.
Kela looked hyped and a little wild in his outing, with a passed ball allowing Tulowitzki to score from first to bring the Jays back even with Texas, but a foul-out to Adrian Beltre from Darwin Barney and a highlight-reel catch from Nomar Mazara on a well-hit ball by Ezequiel Carrera kept the game tied. After a quiet top of the seventh for Texas, courtesy of Joe Biagini, Kela came back out and retired the Toronto side in order.
The game continued tied, as a combination of Biagini and Brett Cecil held Texas hitless in the top of eighth, and Matt Bush struck out the Toronto side in the bottom of the frame, two looking, one swinging. Roberto Osuna quickly retired the Texas hitters in order in the top of the ninth, and Jeff Banister sent Bush back out there for a second inning of work.
Bush pushed the game to extras with a strikeout, a flyout, and a popout, setting the stage for yet more drama in a series that certainly hasn’t been short of it. Osuna’s second inning went as well as his first, and Jeff Banister made a decision some would question - he left Matt Bush in to pitch a third inning. Bush, while pitching as well, if not better, than he had all season, had also never thrown more than two innings at a time.
Josh Donaldson led off the bottom of the tenth with a double to the wall in right-center field, and the decision was made to intentionally walk Edwin Encarnacion to face Jose Bautista in a potential double-play situation. Bautista worked a full count, but struck out swinging on a high, hot fastball. Russell Martin worked a full count, fouled off multiple pitches, but grounded into what looked like it should be an inning-ending double-play.
Heartbreakingly, at least, for Texas fans, it wasn’t. Elvis Andrus’ turn to Rougned Odor was solid, but a hard slide and a loose grip on the ball meant that Odor’s corresponding throw to Moreland was wide, and Moreland’s last-ditch attempt to catch the winning runner Donaldson at home was not quite in time. Odor’s throw was scored an error, and after a Texas challenge on Encarnacion’s slide at second that was denied, the Rangers’ season officially ended.
Two defensive miscues cost Texas the chance to advance - the passed ball in the sixth allowing Toronto to tie the game, and Odor’s errant throw at the very end. However, in a game that felt like it would be over by the end of the third, Texas was very much still in it, even if that only brought more heartbreak later in the evening.
175 days until Texas opens at home versus the Cleveland Indians on April 3, 2017.
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