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The Rangers weren’t supposed to be here. Not in the playoffs and not a game up in the American League Divisional Series against the mighty Blue Jays (who, if you go back just far enough but not too far, weren’t supposed to be here, either). And the Rangers were certainly not supposed to be the winners of a 14-inning marathon that looked like it would be a blowout in the first few frames.

This game was one of those games that is nearly impossible to describe. It had a little bit of everything: Two star pitchers! 100 mph fastballs! Hilarious defensive blunders! Hilarious baserunning blunders! A benches-clearing altercation! Bad luck! Good luck! Weird luck! Rather than even try to wrap things up cohesively, here are some bullet points you might need if you’re discussing the game this weekend.

-Marcus Stroman validated his hard work to return to action with a solid (and surprising, given he threw 36 pitches over the first two frames) five innings of work. Though Stroman ended up with four runs on his ledger (three charged), he also set down 14 batters in a row at one point and ended the game with a 13:1 groundout-to-flyout ratio; in short, he eventually looked like the dominant pitcher that he was supposed to be all season.

-Rougned Odor dazzled again, scoring what was at the time an insurance run for the Rangers in the top of the second, as well as the winning run in the top of the 14th. While “runs scored” is in itself a difficult to parse statistic, there’s no denying that Odor created both the runs through nervy and aggressive baserunning and incredibly crafty sliding skills.

Odor also demonstrated his defensive skill, making some excellent stops at the keystone, including a barehanded grab and throw to get Josh Donaldson for the third out in the bottom of the 10th.

– The Rangers’ aggressive baserunning both helped and hurt their cause: Odor’s aforementioned talents were checkmarks in the positive column, but Mitch Moreland cost Texas a possible additional run (or two) in the top of the first, by overrunning second base and causing Prince Fielder to be tagged out between third and home. Delino DeShields’ speed turned a potential third out in the top of the 14th into another hit, and later gave the Rangers another insurance run.

-Both defenses were sloppy early, with the Blue Jays gifting the Rangers their second run on a failed rundown in the top of the first, and another Hanser Alberto error allowing Troy Tulowitzki to reach base in the bottom of the second. After the defenses settled down, so did the pitchers, with each starter allowing only one run after the second inning’s conclusion.

-The Blue Jays had only one homer in this game, a center-field shot by Josh Donaldson off Cole Hamels in the bottom of the first. That seems like a victory against this lineup, especially because they did have several homer-length foul balls, as well as a ground-rule double that was nearly a homer by Chris Colabello. (Also seems like a victory against this lineup because this literally was a victory against this lineup.) The lack of production from the Jays’ big names (Bautista, Encarnacion and Tulowitzki were collectively 1-for-16 with five strikeouts) has contributed to the power outage the Jays are currently experiencing—a slump that could carry into Sunday if groundballing starter Martin Perez continues to suppress home runs as he did during the regular season.

-Funny that in a game started by Cole Hamels, we’ve gotten to here before really mentioning him. This wasn’t World Series MVP-caliber Hamels, but his performance doesn’t quite meet the bar for “meltdown” either. A solid seven innings and two earned runs (four total) would sometimes be enough to earn Hamels a win in nine innings, but his presence in the game was erased by the top of the eighth. He’ll have to wait for another start—and perhaps another round, if the Rangers keep their winning streak alive—to notch his first postseason win in the American League.

-Once considered among the worst bullpens in baseball, the Texas bullpen put up seven scoreless innings, including one from Sam Dyson and two from Jake Diekman, both deadline acquisitions. “Closer” Shawn Tolleson threw two scoreless innings in extras against the heart of the Blue Jays order, his first appearance this posteason after being run out five times in a row to end the regular season. Not only did they hold the hard-hitting Jays scoreless, but they showed off premium velocity. Diekman sat in the high 90s (hitting 100 three times, per the stadium gun), while Dyson came in with his power sinker and sawed off bats like he was looking for firewood. Another reliever, Keone Kela threw his hard breaking ball and killer fastball and sparked a benches-clearing discussion of whether or not he actually quick-pitched Josh Donaldson. Meanwhile, Ross Ohlendorf, everyone’s favorite old-timey pitcher, got the save on three strikeouts, running his fastball up around 97 mph.

-The Blue Jays bullpen was no slouch, either, after Brett Cecil allowed a run to tie it up in the top of the eighth. A combination of closer Roberto Osuna, Mark Lowe, Aaron Loup and Aaron Sanchez held Texas to one hit through five innings of work. Sanchez in particular flashed his own brand of excellent velocity, staying in the high 90s through his entire outing.

-Final Words: Adrian Beltre, lovable madman, was hitting off a tee below the stadium in extra innings, and per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson, attempted to talk his way into the game . . . Brett Cecil suffered a torn muscle in his leg while tagging out Mike Napoli, and is most likely out for the rest of the Blue Jays postseason . . . After Ohlendorf recorded the final out, the Rangers celebrated and Prince Fielder did a barrel roll. There’s no real reason to mention this other than to include this Vine of said barrel roll:

The series now shifts to Texas this Sunday, where a sold-out crowd will attempt to fight its way through Cowboys traffic to make it to the Ballpark in Arlington. Sunday’s weather is predicted to be clear and sunny, with a high around 92ËšF, falling to around 86ËšF by game time, and winds from the south.

Thank you for reading

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mattyjames1
10/10
Excellent recap