Texas Rangers Quiet Toronto Blue Jays Crowd
The game that seemed 22 years in the making sure didn't disappoint yesterday afternoon as the ALDS kicked off between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays. The crowd was electric and the atmosphere was "rockin" in Rogers Centre as the fans were treated to a plethora of scoring in one of the most exciting game of the post season so far. Unfortunately for the home town crowd while it may have been an exciting game, the Blue Jays fans will have to wait a little longer for the first post season win in 22 years as the Texas Rangers took game one winning 5-3.
It was a wild game that saw injury scares to all-stars Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista and a plethora of home runs. Both teams had several players leave the yard and while a few of the normal cast of home run hitters for the Blue Jays left the yard (Encarnacion and Bautista), power from the Rangers come from an unlikely part of the line-up. Odor and Chirinos each belted a home run from the eighth and ninth spots respectively combining for three of the five total runs. Leadoff hitter Delino DeShields was an absolute menace to the Blue Jays going 2-4 with an RBI to his credit. While the Toronto offense has had success during the regular season against the Rangers with 11 home runs, there just wasn't enough of that power to win.
Even though there was a good amount of offense on display the bigger story line of the game had to do with the pitching of Toronto, specifically number 14. Not only did the Blue Jays as an organization not get their first post season win in 22 years (ironically winning the World Series), but starting pitcher David Price still has yet to earn his first postseason win as a starter. Whether it was nervousness, excitement, or the craziness of the post season that got to Price, the Toronto ace had a very uncharacteristically rough outing.
The fastball command that made Price an elite pitcher eluded him yesterday as he struggled from the very first inning. From walking two straight batters in the first inning to hitting Odor twice after not hitting one single batter during the regular season with the Blue Jays, Price just couldn't seem to get comfortable. His first home run given up to Chirinos was no more than a badly missed location and as we all know, you can throw all the heat you want but if you can't locate the pitch, there's no way it's staying in the ball park. The home run hit by Odor was meant to be on the far outside of the plate but Price missed it slightly inside and just as it got to Odor's bat it had cleared the right field fence.
Another aspect that was missing from David Price yesterday was his situational awareness pitching. That home run to Chirinos could have easily been prevented if Price was more aware of the situation. Sure all signs pointed towards a bunt, but a fastball right down the heart of the plate is great to work with whether you’re bunting or swinging away. As a pitcher in the MLB you always have to be thinking of every scenario that could happen and Chirinos easily fooled Price and was basically handed the home run.
For the time being it appears as though Price and the Blue Jays might just be another post season statistic. Since 1995 no team that has traded for aces in the months of June, July, or later have ever won a World Series with only two teams even making it to the big dance. Then again, not too many teams in the past have been as well balanced as this year’s Blue Jays squad who has accumulated 894 runs this season. Probably the biggest culprit besides the pitching of David Price had to do with playoff experience. Obviously the Blue Jays haven't played post season baseball since 1993 while you only have to look back three years for the Ranger's last post season appearance.
If I were a superstitious Blue Jays fan I'd be extremely worried by all of that, not to mention the 11-14 record that Toronto has when closing the roof. But for me and hopefully the vast majority of Blue Jays fans, superstition is just a word and the Blue Jays are just knocking off the rust and will acquire that elusive playoff win very soon. This game could have been either a simple scare or sign of what's to come, either way the Blue Jays have exposed their weaknesses and must fight on.
Toronto gets another crack at the win as they take on Cole Hamels and the Rangers today at 12:30 pm eastern time.