Photo Credit: sports.inquirer.net
The Toronto Blue Jays, though given a chance to take home the pennant this season, were marked down as an underdog coming into this postseason. After a magical 11 inning victory in the Wild Card game over the Baltimore Orioles, which ended with a walk-off 3-run bomb by Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto made the trip down to Arlington, Texas to take on the Rangers. It was supposed to be an excellent, likely 5-game series between two top-tier juggernaut offenses, not to mention part two between Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista, who were the leaders of the biggest MLB fight in 2016.
Unfortunately, game 1 was not anything like our expectations. The Blue Jays took a quick 5-0 lead by the end of the third inning. Troy Tulowitzki had a 3-run triple and Jose Bautista had a 2-run home run. That was only part of the damage, as Toronto cruised to a 10-1 victory. Aside maybe the excellent play by Texas Rangers’ newly acquired left fielder Carlos Gomez, the Rangers had nothing to smile about. It seemed as if the Jays carried the energy from Encarnacion’s walk off in the Wild Card game right into the ALDS. Marcus Stroman pitched out of his mind against one of the best offenses in the entire game of baseball.
Game 2 was a bit more interesting. Tulowitzki once again started the game off by blasting a 2-run home run to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. After back to back long bombs and stellar pitching, Toronto won game 2 as well to take a commanding lead in the series. It is going to be an insane uphill battle for the Rangers to get back into the series. They will have to win 2 straight games in a hostile environment. I don’t agree with, and don’t even want to start discussing, the fan who threw beer at the wild card game. I hated it, but it does bring out the passion in the north for a World Series. Chances are that the Blue Jays will not lose after going ahead 2-0 in the series.
This brings up the question: is this ALDS series already in the books? I don’t want to say yes. The last thing I, along with almost any baseball fan, want is for this projected epic series to be a massive disappointment. But, I would not be surprised if the Jays end up taking the series relatively easily. To begin, the Blue Jays just have boatloads of energy. They still have that fire that was ignited in the night of the Wild Card game. You can see it in their play: They want to win more than anyone in the MLB and they are more confident than anyone in the MLB. Usually just wanting something in sports isn’t enough to make an impact. In this case, however, Toronto is playing at 110% all the time, and Texas just cannot keep up with their firepower.
Every year in the postseason, there is one player who gets red-hot and almost single-handedly wins games for his team. Last year it was Daniel Murphy, and in 2014 we saw Madison Bumgarner. The list goes on. While Madison Bumgarner might be the breakout star once again, this season may smile upon the Blue Jays’ shortstop to get hot. Troy Tulowitzki went without a hit in the Wild Card game, but has been not too short of perfect since. Many players struggle while gaining postseason experience. Tulowitzki has had two years with the Rockies and another two with the Blue Jays in the postseason, so now he can be considered as “experienced” in the postseason, and he has shown that. Since the early struggles in the Wild Card game, Tulowitzki has gone 5 for 9 including a 3-run triple and 2-run home run. Let’s not forget his near perfect defense that’s awarded him with two Gold Glove awards over the years. Simply put, Troy Tulowitzki is hot, and he will continue to make a big impact on the series.
It is time to accept the facts: Toronto has more momentum than anyone in baseball and Texas is playing straight up terrible. Given Texas will enter one of the most hostile environments in sports, it is likely the Jays take game 3 easily and sweep the series. It is astronomically disappointing to see what was supposed to be the series of the year be destroyed by one team that just didn’t let up. The Toronto Blue Jays have assembled an offense like no other and has created momentum that may just ride them through the ALCS and into the World Series.