Estrada and Blue Jays rout Hamels in Game 1 at Texas

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Hawkins

Jose Bautista hit an­other long, punc­tu­at­ing home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in the play­offs against the Texas Rangers.

This time, Bautista dropped his bat softly near home plate and rounded the bases af­ter a 425-foot, three-run blast in the ninth in­ning of the Blue Jays’ 10-1 romp Thurs­day in Game 1 of the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

“I have a cou­ple of home runs in my ca­reer and I think I’ve only flipped it once,” Bautista said. “Just kind of been blown out of pro­por­tion be­cause of the mo­ment last year. So I don’t think there was any­thing too spe­cial about lay­ing it down the way I did, be­cause that’s the way that 99.9-plus per­cent of the time I do it.”

Bautista had that em­phatic bat flip af­ter his tiebreak­ing homer in the ALDS Game 5 clincher last Oc­to­ber against the Rangers, and got punched the last time the Blue Jays played in Texas in May. He drove in four runs this time, in­clud­ing an RBI sin­gle in Toronto’s five-run third off All-Star lefty Cole Hamels.

Marco Estrada took a shutout into the ninth in­ning. The Al­lS­tar right-han­der with an im­pres­sive changeup, who won Game 3 in last year’s ALDS af­ter Toronto lost the first two at home, struck out six with­out a walk.

“He’s mas­tered his craft,” man­ager John Gib­bons said. “He’s a very calm guy . ... He doesn’t get down on him­self. As well as he’s pitched in two years here, re­ally no need.”

Estrada has never pitched a com­plete game in the ma­jors and the Blue Jays didn’t throw one this sea­son. No mat­ter, Estrada gave them all they needed to start this best-of-five se­ries.

“Who cares. We won,” Estrada said.

The last of the Rangers’ four hits off Estrada was Elvis An­drus’ lead­off triple in the ninth. Gib­bons re­moved the right-han­der af­ter ShinSoo Choo’s RBI grounder ended the shutout bid.

Troy Tu­low­itzki hit a bases­loaded triple for the Blue Jays. Toronto has won four straight over­all, in­clud­ing an 11-in­ning, 5-2 vic­tory over Bal­ti­more in the AL wild-card game Tues­day night.

Bautista was booed heartily dur­ing pregame in­tro­duc­tions and while he bat­ted in the first in­ning. There also were chants of “Rougie! Rougie!” — those were for Rougned Odor, the sec­ond base­man who punched Bautista and ig­nited a bench-clear­ing brawl in their last meet­ing May 15. Odor was sus­pended seven games.

By time Bautista led off the sev­enth with a walk, the ball­park was quiet with the Rangers down 7-0. Af­ter he home­red, a fan threw the ball al­most back to the in­field.

Hamels, the MVP of the 2008 World Se­ries and NLCS for Philadel­phia, threw 42 of his 82 pitches in the third. He al­lowed seven runs (six earned) with three walks in 3.1 in­nings.

“When you give up the amount of runs that I did early in the game, it can kind of de­flate any­thing and ev­ery­thing of what home-field ad­van­tage re­ally is,” Hamels said. “It was a ma­jor let­down for what I was able to not do.”

Eze­quiel Car­rera was on sec­ond base with two outs in the third when Josh Don­ald­son hit a liner to­ward third base. Don­ald­son, who had four hits, had even stopped run­ning, as­sum­ing Adrian Bel­tre would catch the ball — in­stead, the ris­ing liner ric­o­cheted off the mitt of the four­time Gold Glover and into left field for an RBI dou­ble that made it 1-0.

En­car­na­cion then had a sin­gle on a liner off Hamels’ out­stretched glove, be­fore Bautista’s run-scor­ing sin­gle and Rus­sell Martin’s walk to load the bases.

Tu­low­itzki fol­lowed with a triple deep into the right-cen­ter gap on a ball that All-Star cen­ter fielder Ian Des­mond might have lost when run­ning out of the sun and into the shad­ows while get­ting close to the wall dur­ing the late af­ter­noon.

“We’d be talk­ing about how great a play it was if he made the catch,” Texas man­ager Jeff Banis­ter said.

Melvin Up­ton Jr. home­red start­ing the Toronto fourth be­fore An­drus’ one-out throw­ing er­ror from short­stop al­lowed Devon Travis


Texas start­ing pitcher Cole Hamels, right, walks off the mound af­ter be­ing re­moved dur­ing the fourth in­ning against Toronto in Game 1 in Ar­ling­ton, Texas, Thurs­day.

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