TORONTO (Oct. 10) — The first sweep in Toronto Blue Jays playoff history resulted from one of the most gripping and entertaining games ever contested by the ball club. Sunday night’s 10–inning thriller at Rogers Centre proved again that the Blue Jays are rather inept at winning conventionally. Consider that no Major League playoff game had ever been decided by a walk–off error in extra innings. Until now.
But, why feign surprise?
From Joe Carter “touching ’em all” in 1993 to Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, the men that wear this uniform have long–been prone to drama. Sunday night’s elimination of Texas in Game 3 of the American League Division Series required a final–play error by everyone’s favorite Ranger, Rougned Odor, and a gutsy scamper to the plate by the “Bringer of Rain”. Donaldson will not repeat as American League MVP this season — the honor will go, justifiably and sentimentally, to David Ortiz of Boston — but is there a more prominent big–game “thinker” in baseball right now? Texas fans will undoubtedly spend the winter wondering how Martin’s double–play ball did not end the 10th inning. And, how Donaldson sent the Dome into hysterics after beginning the remarkable sequence at second base.
Scoring from 180 feet on an infield–bouncer by the catcher? Hey… why not?
After all, these are your Toronto Blue Jays.
MY WIDE–ANGLE PHOTO FROM SEC. 527 OF THE UPPER DECK AT ROGERS CENTRE AS JOSH DONALDSON DIVES FOR HOME PLATE AND THE SERIES–WINNING RUN AGAINST TEXAS IN THE BOTTOM OF THE 10th.
Our baseball boys always do things BIG. Perhaps, too big. If a Blue Jays player discovered a fly in his living–room, he’d blow up the house. The result, of course, would be the same. No more fly. But, why use a swatter when there’s dynamite? Living in excess made for a remarkable three hours by the lake on Sunday. If I had ten bucks for every time I turned to my son, Shane, and said, “what a game!”, I’d still owe $300 on the tickets.
On this night, however, my excess was worth every cent.
Toronto will now face either Cleveland or Boston for the American League pennant.
Here are more Sunday images from my trusty NIKON:
KEVIN PILLAR (11) AND MELVIN UPTON (7) LED THE ASSAULT (TOP–LEFT) ON RUSSELL MARTIN AFTER THE GAME–ENDING SEQUENCE. SOON, THERE WAS A PILE OF BODIES IN SHALLOW RIGHT–FIELD.
AS THE JUBILANT JAYS WALKED TOWARD THEIR DUGOUT (ABOVE), FACES TURNED TO CONCERN WHEN UMPIRES DONNED THE “REVIEW” HEAD–SET. ARMS WERE THRUST FORWARD SECONDS LATER (BOTTOM–LEFT) AFTER CREW CHIEF JOE WEST SIGNALED “SAFE” AND THE CELEBRATION RESUMED.
PLAYERS AND MEDIA MULL IN FRONT OF THE BLUE JAYS DUGOUT (ABOVE). DONALDSON WAS INTERVIEWED BY A TBS REPORTER (BELOW) AND LEFT THE FIELD WITH ARMS RAISED.
A BEAUTIFUL, EARLY–AUTUMN SUNSET GREETED THOSE WALKING TO THE DOME FOR GAME 3. THE SKY ABOVE THE C.N. TOWER (BELOW) WAS CLEAR… AND SOMEWHAT BUSY.
THE SECURITY LINE–UPS AT ROGERS CENTRE MOVED QUICKLY ON THIS EVE.
PAINTED ON THE TURF IN FRONT OF EACH DUGOUT, THE ALDS LOGO.
AMID A CASCADE OF BOOING, ROUGNED ODOR OF TEXAS SHOOK HANDS WITH HIS MANAGER, JEFF BANISTER, DURING PRE–GAME INTRODUCTIONS. BANISTER THEN GREETED BLUE JAYS BENCH–COACH DEMARLO HALE IN A POW–WOW WITH THE UMPIRING CREW.
DEMONSTRATIVE BLUE JAYS RELIEVER JASON GRILLI HAD A POWER–GREETING FOR TV VIEWERS IN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES, THEN GATHERED WITH DUANE WARD, CLOSER OF THE ’93 WORLD SERIES TEAM, WHO TOSSED THE CEREMONIAL FIRST PITCH.
ED–WING’S FIRST PLATE APPEARANCE AT ROGERS CENTRE SINCE THE WALK–OFF HOME RUN AGAINST BALTIMORE IN THE WILD CARD GAME RESULTED IN — WHAT ELSE? — ANOTHER JACK TO LEFT–FIELD.
THE RALLY–TOWELS WERE IN TWIRL–MODE FOR MUCH OF SUNDAY NIGHT.
FANS WERE JAMMED INTO EVERY ROW OF THE STADIUM BENEATH THE FIELD–VIEW HOTEL WINDOWS (TOP–LEFT) AND IN THE FARTHEST REACHES ABOVE THE LIGHT STANDARDS.
TORONTO STARTER AARON SANCHEZ GUTTED HIS WAY THROUGH 5.2 UNEVEN INNINGS BEFORE MANAGER JOHN GIBBONS CAME FOR THE BALL.
A 5–2 BLUE JAYS LEAD DISSIPATED IN THE TOP OF THE SIXTH WHEN MITCH MORELAND OF TEXAS SENT A LASER TO LEFT–CENTER AND JUST BEYOND THE REACH OF A DIVING KEVIN PILLAR. ROUGNED ODOR AND JONATHAN LUCROY SCORED ON THE FIRST–BASEMAN’S DOUBLE.
BANISTER WORE A PATH TO THE MOUND, MAKING SIX PITCHING CHANGES.
PILLAR WAS INTENTIONALLY WALKED IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH AND DARWIN BARNEY DEFTLY AVOIDED AN INSIDE PITCH WITH THE BASES LOADED. SECONDS LATER, LUCROY’S PASSED BALL TIED THE GAME, 6–6.
FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE GAME, GIBBONS CALLED ON ROBERTO OSUNA TO REGISTER MORE THAN THREE OUTS. OSUNA PITCHED PERFECTLY IN THE 9th AND 10th INNINGS.
WITH DONALDSON AT SECOND BASE AFTER HIS DOUBLE LEADING OFF THE BOTTOM OF THE 10th, MARTIN PREPARED FOR HIS AWKWARD MOMENT OF DESTINY.
FANS IN THE UPPER DECK HELD ON TIGHT.
THE BLUE JAYS CATCHER HIT A FAIRLY ROUTINE DOUBLE–PLAY BALL THAT ROUGNED ODOR MESSED UP AT SECOND BASE. ODOR’S THROW TO FIRST WAS IN THE DIRT, ALLOWING DONALDSON TO SCAMPER HOME FROM THIRD WITH THE WINNING RUN. MICHAEL SAUNDERS (21) AND JOSE BAUTISTA (19) WERE AMONG THOSE (TOP–RIGHT) TO SMOTHER DONALDSON.
THE FINAL SCORE… AND A CLOSE–UP OF THE RALLY–TOWEL.
AND, TO THOSE IN OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY OF CANADA…