Blue Jays pull off late rally to take over first place
ARLINGTON, TEX. – For the longest time Tuesday night, it appeared the Blue Jays had run into a team hotter than themselves.
The Texas Rangers insinuated themselves into the playoff picture with 15 wins in their last 20 games and they carried a 5-4 lead into the ninth inning, looking to derail the Toronto juggernaut. It was not to be.
The Jays rallied for a pair of runs in the ninth, one on a clutch RBI-single by Troy Tulowitzki, down to his last strike with two outs, and then another on an error by third baseman Adrian Beltre, allowing Ben Revere to score the go-ahead run in a 6-5 Toronto win.
With the victory, the Blue Jays took over sole possession of first place in the American League East from the New York Yankees, who were pounded 15-1 by the Houston Astros.
The late rally got Mark Buehrle off the hook for his seventh loss and made a winner of reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth.
The Rangers torched Buehrle for five runs on seven hits in the first three-plus innings but he bobbed and weaved his way through six innings and the bullpen crew — Liam Hendriks, Brett Cecil, Hawkins and closer Roberto Osuna — held the Rangers off the board the rest of the way. Osuna collected his 15th save, pitching around a one-out single in the ninth.
The Blue Jays pounded out three home runs to account for their first four runs. Chris Colabello and Edwin Encarnacion each hit solo shots while Jose Bautista belted a two-run job.
In the Toronto ninth, Texas closer Shawn Tolleson walked Russell Martin leading off. Ezequiel Carrera ran for Martin and moved up to second on Kevin Pillar’s ground-out to shortstop. Revere then walked but pinch-hitter Justin Smoak popped out to centre field.
That brought Tulowitzki to the plate. With the count 3-0, Tolleson threw a pitch well outside that home plate umpire Mike Estabrook called a strike. Tulowitzki fouled the next pitch straight back then dumped a single into short left, scoring Carrera.
Josh Donaldson came up with Revere on third and Tulowitzki on first and hit a slow roller to Beltre. His throw pulled Mitch Moreland off the bag at first to allow Revere to score.
Coming off a four-inning, seven-hit, four-run outing in Philadelphia, Buehrle was again not at his best, thumped for seven hits and five earned runs over six innings.
The Rangers hit a lot of balls hard and two of them left the yard, solo homers by Rougned Odor and Delino DeShields. All the damage was done in the first four innings and the Blue Jays offence, so bombastic over the weekend, was limited to just four runs, all of them via the homer.
The Rangers opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on an RBI-triple by Beltre that plated Shin-Soo Choo.
Colabello then hit the first home run of he night, a solo shot in the second. Odor responed in kind in the Rangers second.
In the third inning, after Tulowitzki had singled for the second time in the game, Bautista unloaded his 30th bomb of the year deep to left to give Toronto the lead. That advantage was short-lived as well, erased when DeShields belted his second of the season leading off the third to tie it.
Back-to-back doubles by Odor and Elvis Andrus leading off the fourth gave Texas a 4-3 lead. After Bobby Wilson sacrificed Andrus to third, left fielder Ryan Strausborger gave the Rangers a two-run lead with a sacrifice fly to right.
Encarnacion got one of those runs back when he led off the sixth with his 25th homer into the left field bleachers, extending his major-league leading hit streak to 20 games, five short of the franchise record held by Scott Rolen.
The Rangers held that slender one-run lead all the way to the ninth but a clutch, two-out single by Tulowitzki, his third hit of the game, scored pinch-runner Carrera from second.
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