TORONTO (Reuters) - What started out as the inning from hell turned into seventh heaven for the Toronto Blue Jays as they channeled their anger into a four-run burst and a trip to the American League Championship with a 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
With the best-of-five series level at 2-2 a tense game turned during a stormy seventh inning, which had managers and umpires checking the rule book, featured two dugout clearing confrontations, an incensed capacity crowd showering the field with debris and Toronto playing the game under protest.
Jose Bautista then belted a three-run homer to give the Blue Jays a lead they would not surrender.
Things had turned bizarre when Toronto catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to the pitcher deflected off Choo Shin-soo’s bat and trickled to the infield allowing Roughned Odor to speed home from third to put Texas in front 3-2.
Confusion followed as both managers charged from the dugout to plead their cases to home plate umpire Dale Scott.
As the debate dragged on, the crowd filled the air with jeers and debris, some of which came close to hitting players.
Toronto’s John Gibbons argued that Choo had interfered with Martin’s throw back to reliever Aaron Sanchez but after a video review the run was confirmed.
”Choo’s standing in the batters’ box doing what he always does, the play’s not dead, the ball was thrown, went off of Choo’s hand,“ said Texas manager Jeff Banister. ”It’s still a live baseball. That’s the rule.
“So how about my guy being heads-up and scoring on that play and not keeping his head down, because that’s who we are.”
That focus vanished in the bottom half of the seventh inning as the Rangers self-destructed and committed three consecutive errors on routine hits to allow Toronto to load the bases.
After Josh Donaldson hit a single to score Kevin Pillar to tie the game, Bautista slammed a three-run homer into the second deck, tossing the bat with added flair that prompted another benches-clearing confrontation.
” “I know crazy things happen in this game, especially this time of year ...I‘m still not certain what happened, what was going on what the ruling is,” said Gibbons.
”Really it came down to the rules are what they are and I‘m still a bit in the fog about that.
“But you didn’t want something like that to be the deciding run in a game of this magnitude, so that was kind of my beef. But the umpire crew did a great job, they really did.”
(This story corrects the name of scorer in paragraph 11.)
Editing by Greg Stutchbury