(The Sports Xchange) - It came down to a battle of the bullpens. The Texas Rangers won that and ultimately the game Friday.
While the bullpen held the Toronto Blue Jays to two hits over the final seven innings, the Rangers scored twice in the 14th inning to earn a 6-4 victory and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
“As far as our bullpen is concerned, what a phenomenal job they did today and the zeros they put up,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was not surprised by the strength of the Texas bullpen.
“No, no, we saw them early in the year,” he said. “They’ve got some big arms.”
The Blue Jays’ bullpen took a hit when left-hander Brett Cecil suffered what Gibbons called “a significant tear in his calf.”
Cecil was injured in a rundown play that ended the eighth inning.
The Blue Jays bullpen also excelled until the 14th inning when Hanser Alberto, filling in a third base for injured Adrian Beltre, singled in the go-ahead run against right-hander LaTroy Hawkins.
With his winning hit, Alberto atoned for an error that led to two unearned runs in the second inning.
“I feel pretty sour in the moment because that cost us a couple of runs,” Alberto said.
“But you know, we fight until the last out. It was a team effort and, you know, just keeping my head up and ready for the next ground ball after that.”
As for the winning hit.
“I’m just looking for the fastball every time, so finally I get it, put a good swing and thank Odor because he’s hustling,” Alberto said.
Hawkins retired the first two batters of the 14th before second baseman Rougned Odor reached first on an infield hit.
Catcher Chris Gimenez followed with a single. Odor rounded second and slid back to the bag after a throw from right fielder Jose Bautista nearly caught him.
The call stood after a video review although the Rogers Centre crowd disagreed.
“It looked pretty clear to a lot of us that there was a little bit of space in there,” Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar said.
“Besides, I thought it passed the eye test. But we’ve got the best umpires in the world for a reason so they’re doing job as well.”
After the review, Alberto singled to center to score Odor. Australian right-hander Liam Hendriks replaced Hawkins.
Center fielder Delino DeShields beat out an infield single to shortstop and another run scored.
Right-hander Keone Kela picked up the win and right-hander Ross Ohlendorf secured the save.
The Blue Jays know they must turn things around in a hurry.
“What do we have to do?” Pillar asked. “Not lose first of all. Just get back to what we’ve done. We haven’t really played clean baseball. We’ve pitched outstanding but it’s just a matter of stringing together some hits.”
Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman allowed four runs (three earned), five hits and two walks while striking out five in seven-plus innings
Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels allowed four runs (two earned) and six hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.
Editing by Andrew Both