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Jays sweep Rangers for second straight trip to ALCS

It began with a 10-1 blowout in Game 1 where the AL Central Champion, Texas Rangers, could not only figure out Marco Estrada of the wild card Toronto Blue Jays, but post-season veteran, Cole Hamels, couldn’t get out of fourth inning after getting shelled for seven runs. Hamels, who was appearing in his seventh post-season (five with Phillies, second with Texas), gave up six earned runs including a fourth inning home run to Melvin Upton Jr, and walked three before being pulled one out into the fourth inning for Alex Claudio who finally held the Jays offense in check for 3.1 innings of stellar work. But the Rangers offense just couldn’t crack Estrada until one out into the ninth inning when a run was finally pushed home by Shin-Soo Choo. Jose Bautista would drive in four and Troy Tulowitzki would add another three RBI to lead the vaunted Jays attack and give them a 1-0 series lead in the ALDS.

Game 2 would bring less scoring but more home runs by the team that finished third in the AL in long balls. Toronto crushed four home runs off the bats of Edwin Encarnacion, Tulowitzki, Kevin Pillar, and Ezequiel Carrera to back up their 20-game winner, J.A. Happ, who went just five innings in the 5-3 win. The Rangers sent Yu Darvish to the hill hoping for a rebound game from their pitching staff as a whole in the second game of the Division Series. The four home runs hit by the Jays all came off Darvish, setting a new career high (or low, in this case) for the righty. The Texas offense managed a bit more of an attack off Jays pitching but it wasn’t enough. Ian Desmond led the way with a three-hit game and drove in two of the three runs for the Rangers, but inevitably Toronto would take a commanding 2-0 series lead heading to Toronto for the pivotal and potentially series-ending Game 3.

Series-ending it would prove to be but in very dramatic fashion.

In what turned out to be a back and forth game offensively, it would be an error in the bottom of the 10th inning that would determine the Rangers fate. Reigning AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, would hustle home after a throwing error by Rougned Odor at second base. Donaldson had led off the inning with a double and made it all the way around to score the walk-off and series-clinching run off the error. Odor, who’d hit a home run earlier in the game, threw over to Mitch Moreland at first base and could only watch as the ball got away and Moreland’s throw to the plate was just behind the head-first sliding Donaldson. Despite the loss and being swept, the Rangers went down fighting as they’d mounted comebacks in the fourth and sixth innings off Jays pitching including six runs off starter Aaron Sanchez who exited in the sixth inning.

Seven different Blue Jays hit home runs in the short, three-game sweep of the Rangers, tying an MLB record for a Division Series. The Jays now await the winner of the Indians/Red Sox series where Cleveland has a 2-0 lead. Their Game 3 is set for tonight at 6:00 PM EST from Boston.

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