Rangers ready for a 2nd shot
ARLINGTON, Texas — Elvis Andrus refuses to be defined by what happened last October, when the Texas Rangers shortstop made two errors on routine plays.
There was the misplayed grounder in the disastrous seventh inning of the ALDS-deciding fifth game in Toronto. Later came a dropped throw on what would have been a sure force out in the inning, Tears flowed from Andrus’ eyes after that loss, a gutpunch finish just short of the feeling the Rangers had in 2011 after twice coming within a strike of winning their first World Series.
But out of that also came a fresh drive for Andrus, who at 28 and in his eighth season is the team’s longest-tenured position player.
“I put it on my shoulder, and I’m built for that,” Andrus said. “I knew it was going to be a challenging year for me. But I was excited to see what I was made of, and the regular season was the first step. I’m way more ready for the postseason this year.”
The AL West champion Rangers, in the playoffs for the fifth time in seven years, have home-field advantage for the entire postseason. They host those same Blue Jays today in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Andrus had his first .300 season (.302) and also had career highs with eight home runs, 69 RBIs and 46 extra-base hits. His 70 strikeouts were the fewest in his career.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre knows what happened to Andrus in Toronto last year could have happened to anybody.
“We talked about it after that happened, and that pushed him to learn from that mistake and have more motivation to come this year and do what he did,” Beltre said. “It was nice to see that instead of breaking him, it made him stronger.”
Andrus has seen the replays of that inning a few times and said it doesn’t affect him. The clips are sure to be shown this postseason as long as the Rangers keep playing.
“I would like to see that quite a few times,” Andrus said. “I have no problem with that.” Banged-up bullpen: Closer Roberto Osuna exited the Blue Jays’ wildcard victory over the Orioles with a sore shoulder. Tests did not reveal any damage, and Osuna said the soreness might be a result of fatigue. If he is not available, Jason Grilli would likely handle the ninth inning. The Blue Jays already are without setup man Joaquin Benoit. Pair of aces: For the first time, the Rangers have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish in their playoff rotation. Darvish, whose only postseason appearance was a loss in the 2012 wild-card game to the Orioles, missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Hamels, acquired in a July 2015 trade, has a 3.03 ERA in 15 postseason games and was the 2008 World Series MVP for the Phillies. Unruly fans: The noisy crowds in Canada are gaining a reputation for bad behavior. Toronto police were looking for the fan who threw a beer can at Orioles OF Hyun Soo Kim in the wild-card game. During Game 5 of last year’s ALDS, Blue Jays fans littered the field with debris after a disputed call. Close calls: The Rangers were an MLB-record 36-11 in one-run games, led the majors with 49 comeback wins and had an MLB-best 21 wins in their last at-bat.
Rangers 2B Rougned Odor, left, and SS Elvis Andrus are eager for an ALDS rematch against the Blue Jays. Game 1: 4:38 p.m. today Blue Jays (undecided) at Rangers (Hamels 15-5) Game 2: 1:08 p.m. Friday Blue Jays (undecided) at Rangers (Darvish 7-5) Game 3: 7:38 p.m. Sunday Rangers (Lewis 6-5) at Blue Jays (undecided) Game 4: TBD Monday* Rangers (Perez 10-11) at Blue Jays (undecided) Game 5: TBA Wednesday* Blue Jays at Rangers