(By: Nicholas Baxter)
It was Thanksgiving Sunday and I had just come home to see my family for the first time since moving to downtown Toronto in September. What could possibly be a better way to watch the Toronto Blue Jays potentially sweep the Texas Rangers at home?—I guess the only better setting could have been at the actual game.
The Blue Jays were coming back home after gaining a 2-0 series lead in the ALDS best-of-five away in Texas. All the while, the boys answered the bell. Toronto won the first game 10-1 in a very one-sided affair, Bautista hitting a 3-run homerun in the process. Game 2 finished with a score of 5-3 for the birds.
If you didn’t already know, the Blue Jays and the Rangers aren’t particularly friendly with each other. A rivalry that focuses on two players, Jose Bautista for Toronto and Rougned Odor for Texas, and dates back to last year’s ALDS. If you’re a fan of baseball, there is no way you haven’t seen the bat flip in Game 5 of last year’s ALDS, and Odor punching Bautista square in the face during their last regular season meeting that led to a bench-clearing brawl. And if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.
If you watched Game 3, maybe you got the impression that there was some bad blood when you heard the crowd react to Odor getting his name called.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) October 9, 2016
There is no doubt in my mind that Odor put it on himself to rally his team in this elimination game. Occupying the role of Toronto’s worst enemy, I’m sure he wanted nothing more than to silence the Rogers Centre. He did, but not for too long.
In the top of the fourth inning, as the “boos” continued to shower down, Odor hit a 2-run homerun to pull his team within one run of the Jays. Just when he thought he had finally gotten his revenge, came an ending that resembled one out of a story book and with the happiest of endings for Jays fans.
Tied at six runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, with Josh Donaldson on second base and Edwin Encarnacion on first, Russell Martin hit a ground ball that should’ve been a routine double play to end the inning. But that isn’t how the baseball gods wrote it up. Odor caught the ball to get the out at second. He also completely missed the throw to first, allowing Donaldson to score to end the game and the series. With that, the Toronto Blue Jays were able to move on to the ALCS off an error committed by the one and only, Rougned Odor. Are you kidding me?
After all of the heat Texas gave Bautista for his dramatic bat flip and Odor’s punch earlier in the season, this happened. After targeting Bautista with pitches, after showering Odor with vicious “boos,” and after all the back-and-forth between trash-talking fans on social media, this happened. After a dominant performance from the Jays from beginning to end in the series, this still managed to happen. It’s too good. And Jays fans are certainly having fun with it…
— Bryce Wood (@woodymlb4) October 10, 2016
It wasn’t only the fans who were happy, as the players had a lot to say about their team following the game.
Martin, Jays’ catcher, who also had a homerun in the deciding Game 3, said it best during the post-game press conference.
“It’s just really nice to have a team that goes out there and just battles,” said Martin. “Guys that play hurt, that play banged up, with no excuses—I’m just really proud of this team and the way we handled ourselves.”
Odor didn’t seem interested in continuing the narrative after the game. In an interview with the Toronto Sun he said, “I tried to make the play and I pulled the ball a little bit. It’s part of the game.”
And just like that, it’s a big Texas-sized goodbye to Odor and the Texas Rangers, and hello to the Jays’ ALCS opponent, the Cleveland Indians. The Indians were also able to sweep, having their way with the Boston Red Sox. Both Toronto and Cleveland are riding a serious high and it should make for another exciting series.
The series will begin in Cleveland on Friday at 8 p.m. The Indians won the season series against the Blue Jays by a score of four games to three. Matchup aside, this series is a big one considering Cleveland’s former executives Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins now represent the Blue Jays’ front office.