Game 1 of the ALDS was a pretty worry-free affair for the Toronto Blue Jays. After Troy Tulowitzki hit his bases-clearing triple in the third inning, the Blue Jay coasted to an eventual 10-1 win. But Game 2 of the ALDS was a different story.
By the time the Blue Jays hit their fourth home run of the game and jumped out to a 5-1 lead, things felt fairly safe against Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers. But they certainly didn’t finish that way. There was at least some panic in that Game 2 victory by the Blue Jays.
From an outsider’s perspective, that was at least a much more entertaining affair than the 10-1 drubbing the night before. Margins of victory are typically much less than nine runs in playoff baseball games, but the Blue Jays will take these victories however they can get them.
Although the Rangers mounted a late rally in the 8th and 9th inning, Roberto Osuna shut the door as the Blue Jays take a commanding 2-0 series lead heading back to Toronto.
I say “commanding” lead, but it’s a bit of a cautionary tale as we all know the Blue Jays experienced the exact opposite scenario one year ago in the ALDS; going down 0-2 at home, only to win the next two games on the road and finish the series at home.
But here’s the difference; the Blue Jays head back to Toronto with their “ace” on the mound on Sunday in the form of Aaron Sanchez. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers counter with Colby Lewis … so they certainly have some work to do.
The Blue Jays’ win today did not come without its concerns; the unknown status of both Francisco Liriano and Devon Travis is worrisome. Overall, the Blue Jays roster is already ailing; Josh Donaldson and Roberto Osuna just to name a few.
But judging by his four-out performance today, it doesn’t look like Roberto Osuna is showing any ill effects after exiting Tuesday’s Wild Card game.
The Blue Jays did indeed eek out a victory in Game 2, but I feel like they got a bit lucky in that one. The Rangers stranded a total of 13 runners on base and J.A. Happ alone allowed 10 base runners and somehow weaved his way to exit with only one earned run on the board.
Middle-to-late relief was a stress point for the Blue Jays, as that sequence of Cecil-Grilli-Liriano in the 8th inning was enough to make anybody’s heart rate escalate. The bridge to Roberto Osuna still seems to be a bit of a high wire act.
The walk by Brett Cecil and the line drive off Francisco Liriano complicated matters that much further as John Gibbons had to call upon certain relievers much sooner than anticipated.
As stressful as that game was at the end, the Blue Jays are still up 2-0 on the Rangers. And the difference in the dynamic in a series from 2-0 compared to 1-1 is huge.
The Blue Jays really only needed to win one of those two games in Texas, but they emerged with both in hand and can end the series in Toronto in Sunday or Monday.
It’s remarkable the stark contrast in tone surrounding this team compared to just one week ago. They were barely on the fringe of making the playoffs, to just barely making it in, to taking a winner-take-all game, and now the Jays are one win away from returning to the ALCS.
If I could go back in time by one week, I would probably just tell my former self “don’t panic”.