Blue Jays sweep Rangers to advance to 2nd straight ALCS
It may not have happened like they'd imagined, but the Toronto Blue Jays are moving on in the most dramatic of fashions.
Toronto finished off a dominating sweep of the American League West champion Texas Rangers in the ALDS with a 7-6 walk-off victory at Rogers Centre thanks to a throwing error by second baseman Rougned Odor in the 10th inning.
With the victory, the Blue Jays have advanced to the American League Championship Series for a second straight year.
Rangers reliever Matt Bush - who threw a career-high 42 pitches in 2 2/3 innings of work - looked like he'd slid his way out of trouble after allowing a Josh Donaldson double and intentionally walking Edwin Encarnacion by inducing a tailor-made double-play ground ball off the bat of Russell Martin. When Odor made a bad throw to first base that Mitch Moreland couldn't handle, Donaldson alertly scampered around third and pushed for home. Moreland's throw wasn't close, and Donaldson slid home head first for the winning run.
Texas manager Jeff Banister challenged the play, claiming that Encarnacion interfered with Odor while sliding into second base, and Donaldson did not touch home plate. Crew chief Joe West was on the headset with replay headquarters for several minutes as the Blue Jays celebrated around him, before ruling that there was no interference and Donaldson did swipe his hand across home.
The Blue Jays became just the second team to walk off two playoff rounds in one season, joining the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, who walked off the ALDS and World Series. Last week, Toronto advanced to the ALDS thanks to an extra-inning walk-off homer by Encarnacion in the AL wild-card game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Roberto Osuna, who threw two scoreless innings in relief, recorded the win.
Toronto was helped by first-inning homers from Encarnacion and Martin, and AL ERA leader Aaron Sanchez struck out five over 5 2/3 innings of work. Colby Lewis didn't last long for Texas, giving up five runs in two-plus innings before the bullpen took over.
The Blue Jays will open the ALCS in either Cleveland or Boston on Friday night.
(Video courtesy: MLB.com)