Now, onto the game. The atmosphere at the Rodgers Centre was crazy, as it has been for the last two years that the Jays have been in the playoffs. They opened up the roof for the first time in franchise playoff history, and the crowd was raucous. Jose Bautista opened scoring in the second inning by hitting a solo home run. Bautista has now driven in a run in five straight playoff games for Toronto, setting a new franchise mark.
That one-run lead held for the Blue Jays until the 4th inning, when Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to left field. The Orioles swung momentum back in their favor in their first playoff appearance since a wild card bid in 2012. After Trumbo's homer, I thought the Orioles were taking the game home for sure. A momentum swing like that can be a real kick in the dick to any team. However, the home team recovered quickly, refusing to allow a single hit after the sixth inning. That type of lockdown pitching will win playoffs games 9 times out of 10, so a lot of credit is due to Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman and the Toronto bullpen for strapping down the Orioles for most of the game.
The Blue Jays responded to the Orioles taking the lead when Ezequiel Carrera singled Michael Saunders home to tie the game at two. The home crowd responded accordingly, getting increasingly louder throughout the game.
However, things in the crowd got a little ugly at the end of the seventh inning. Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim was settling underneath the fly ball that would end the inning, and a fan threw what appeared to be a mostly-full beer can at Kim in an effort to distract him:
The game proceeded to go into extra innings, which is exactly what you want in a high-stakes game like this. There's not much I love more than an exciting, well-played baseball game, and the MLB playoffs have a penchant for pumping those out like it's their job (I guess it kind of is their job, but whatever, I can't think of anything else that gets pumped out easily). There's just something about the autumn air that makes baseball players do their best work. Anyways, I'll quit harping on what makes playoff baseball so great and get back to the actual game.
The Blue Jays threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning with Josh Donaldson hitting a leadoff double down the third base line. However, the Orioles managed to defuse that bomb by intentionally walking Edwin Encarnacion, striking out Bautista (who looked like he was swinging for the fences in an effort to be the hero again), and then forcing Russell Martin to ground into a double play to end the inning.
The game went back and forth for another two innings until the bottom of the 11th inning, when Ubaldo Jimenez, who has struggled with control issues this season, entered the game for the Orioles with one out. Jimenez faced three batters, and gave up hits to all three. The first was a single to left field from Devon Travis. Donaldson followed up with a single to left of his own, and when substitute left fielder Nolan Reimold bobbled the ball, Travis advanced to third base. At this point, the stadium was rocking, and you knew that with Encarnacion and Bautista, Toronto's 3 and 4 hitters, due up next, something was going to happen.
And boy, did Encarnacion deliver. He hit the first pitch of the at-bat deep into the left field stands, and the Blue Jays advanced to play the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.