The Mercury News
Jays win A.L. wild card in extras.
Encarnacion’s homer sets up spirited ALDS rematch with Rangers
Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning off Ubaldo Jimenez, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in Tuesday night’s A.L. wild card game to advance to a Division Series matchup against Texas.
Jimenez relieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th, and Devon Travis singled in a 1-1 pitch. Reigning A.L. MVP Josh Donaldson singled on the next pitch, and Travis went all the way to third as left fielder Nolan Reimold bobbled the ball.
With the infield in, Encarnacion sent the following pitch, a 91 mph fastball, soaring into the second deck in left. Encarnacion immediately knew it was gone and raised both arms in triumph, index fingers pointed skyward.
“It was a very special moment and a very special opportunity,” Encarnacion said through a translator. “I was looking for a fastball and I was trying to put the barrel on it, get a little bit in front because the infield was playing in, and I actually got it,”
Baltimore used seven of its 10 pitchers but closer Zach Britton, who was perfect in 47 save chances with a .0.54 ERA during the regular season, never got in the game.
“Nobody has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It didn’t work out.”
Britton warmed up three times.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s not my call,” Britton said. “It was just frustrating to have to sit there and watch.”
Toronto opens the Division Series at Texas on Thursday. Last year, the Blue Jays beat the Rangers in five-game Division Series, sparked by Jose Bautista’s memorable bat flip following a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 5. The teams brawled in May this year when Bautista was punched in the face by Rangers infielder Rougned Odor following a play at second base.
“It’s going to be a very interesting series, and we’re looking forward to it,” Encarnacion said.
Francisco Liriano retired five straight batters on four groundouts and a strikeout for the win after closer Roberto Osuna left with a sore shoulder.
“The doctor told me that I was going to be fine, I just need a couple of days,” Osuna said. “I’ve been pitching a lot lately. They think it’s just fatigue from the last couple of weeks.”
The roof was open at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, where all 24 previous postseason games had been played with it closed.
Bautista led off the second against Chris Tillman with his fifth postseason homer. Mark Trumbo, who led the major leagues with 47 home runs, gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman.
Ezequiel Carrera’s RBI single chased Tillman in the fifth.
When Toronto pinch hitter Melvin Upton Jr. flied out to the warning track in left field to end the seventh, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim was nearly struck by a can that was thrown from the stands. Center fielder Adam Jones angrily gestured toward the seats, and Showalter came out to register his displeasure with the umpires.
Blue Jays fans tossed bottles and debris on the field during Game 5 against Texas last year, upset at the call that let Odor score from third after catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to the mound deflected off Shin Soo Choo’s bat.
This was the second extra-inning wild-card game. Kansas City rallied to beat the A’s 9-8 in 12 innings in 2014.
Cubs pick Lester for Game 1: Manager Joe Maddon announced he was going with Jon Lester (19-5) over Kyle Hendricks and 2015 N.L. Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Mets or Giants. The series opens at Wrigley Field on Friday. Hendricks (16-8) will start Game 2 at home on Saturday. Arrieta (18-8) will pitch Game 3 on the road.
Indians’ Gomes makes speedy recovery: Catcher Yan Gomes may play in October, after all. Gomes, who broke his right hand during a minor league injury rehabilitation appearance late in the season, has progressed to the point that Cleveland may include him in its postseason roster when the Indians open the ALDS on Thursday against Boston.
Manfred wants September call-up rule amended: Commissioner Rob Manfred supports changing the rule that expands active rosters from 25 to 40 each Sept. 1. Managers have expressed concern that the rule changes late in the season, allowing multiple pitching changes for rightlefty matchups. The issue is part of negotiations for a labor contract to replace the deal that expires Dec. 2. Manfred hopes a new labor contract is in place before the start of the offseason business cycle.
Fernandez toxicology results confidential: Investigators probing the death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends likely now know whether the three men were drinking the morning that Fernandez’s boat slammed into a jetty off South Beach. They just aren’t saying.
In response to the Miami Herald’s request for the results of any toxicology tests performed on the victims following the crash, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman said Tuesday that the agency has “received the report” from the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office.