Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

2016 AL Wild Card Game

Blue Jays oust O's in 11th on Edwin's blast

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are going back to the American League Division Series. Edwin Encarnacion made sure of that.

Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning on Tuesday night to send Toronto to a 5-2 victory over the Orioles in the AL Wild Card Game. In a battle of AL East rivals, between two teams that have been evenly matched all season and finished with identical 89-73 regular-season records, it was the Blue Jays who survived, and their reward is a matchup vs. the AL West champion Texas Rangers.

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are going back to the American League Division Series. Edwin Encarnacion made sure of that.

Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning on Tuesday night to send Toronto to a 5-2 victory over the Orioles in the AL Wild Card Game. In a battle of AL East rivals, between two teams that have been evenly matched all season and finished with identical 89-73 regular-season records, it was the Blue Jays who survived, and their reward is a matchup vs. the AL West champion Texas Rangers.

View Full Game Coverage

Encarnacion stepped to the plate with runners on the corners vs. Baltimore right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. He swung at the first pitch he saw and sent it over the wall in left field for the second postseason homer of his career. This was the 10th extra-inning winner-take-all postseason game, and the home team has won all but one of those. It was also the first walk-off homer in a winner-take-all game since the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 6-5, in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.

:: AL Wild Card: Orioles vs. Blue Jays coverage ::

"I was looking for a fastball, and I was trying to put a barrel on it," Encarnacion said after the game. "A little bit in front of it because the infield was playing in, and I actually got it. ... I was really happy, mostly because it was an extra-inning game. It was just a very special moment for us."

The Blue Jays' rally started when Devon Travis came through with a one-out single to left field. Josh Donaldson followed with a single to set up Encarnacion's heroics. Last year, Jose Bautista took the baseball world by storm; this year, it was Encarnacion's turn to move into the spotlight as the crowd chanted "Eddie, Eddie" while the Blue Jays stormed the field.

Orioles closer Zach Britton, who posted the lowest ERA in the Majors, never got the call to the mound in one of the game's biggest head-scratchers.

"He was fine," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Britton. "I considered a lot of things during the course of the game, but our guys did a good job getting us to that point. We just couldn't finish it off. Yeah, he was available."

Toronto now advances to the ALDS for a best-of-five rematch vs. the Rangers. Texas will host Game 1 of the series on Thursday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET (TBS in the U.S., Sportsnet in Canada) at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Blue Jays went 4-3 against the Rangers this season.

Video: Must C Clinch: Edwin's walk-off sends Toronto to ALDS

Blue Jays set to renew Texas-sized rivalry

Encarnacion's home run went a projected 440 feet, tied for his third longest this season and the seventh longest in the postseason during the Statcast™ era, which dates to last season. It was the sixth time this year that Encarnacion has hit one at least 440 feet.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman came away with a no-decision after he was removed from the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out four. Tillman survived a second-inning homer by Bautista, but he could not escape a jam in the fifth after Toronto pieced together three consecutive hits.

"Any way your season ends, if it's not with a World Series ring on the end of it, it's going to hurt," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "It was a tough game. Both teams battled, it was a hard-fought game that really could have gone any way. They were just able to have the last swing and Edwin put a good swing on it."

Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman also did not receive a decision. The Blue Jays' Opening Day starter allowed two runs while scattering four hits and striking out six. He did not walk a batter and threw 53 of his 81 pitches for strikes before turning things over to the bullpen.

'Terrific' Stroman limits O's in quality start

"From the second I walked out of the dugout, I got chills from the entire crowd just standing up and cheering," Stroman said. "This crowd is unbelievable, the fans are unbelievable. They bring a ton of passion and I love it, because that's everything I need and kind of everything I work off of."

Video: AL WC: Stroman fans six, holds O's to two runs

Did you know? Key facts from AL Wild Card Game

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Redemption time:
After grounding into two double plays earlier in the game, Travis showed why he was the Blue Jays' only .300 hitter this season. Travis started the game-winning rally with a one-out single off Jimenez and then advanced to third after Donaldson's base hit was mishandled by Nolan Reimold in left field. Toronto's second baseman jumped for joy as he came around to score on Encarnacion's walk-off home run and then joined his teammates in a massive celebration across home plate.

"Both teams played so well," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Both teams deserved to win that game. I said many times, there's something to having that last at-bat. That's why you love the chance to play at home."

Video: AL WC: Both teams display defensive prowess in WC

Hagen: Blue Jays show more than big bats

Paging Britton: A perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities this year, Britton was nowhere to be found in some of the O's biggest spots. He didn't come out for the ninth inning, as Showalter instead went with Brad Brach for a second inning. Brach gave up a leadoff double and intentionally walked Encarnacion, making way for … Darren O'Day. While O'Day got out of the jam with one pitch, Showalter's decision was costly later as he turned to Jimenez.

"It's frustrating," Britton said. "You watch the guys battle and you want to go in there and do the same. You want to give your offense a chance to win, especially knowing that if we don't win, there's no tomorrow. Like I said, it was tough being down there and having to watch it and not being able to get into the game." More >

Video: AL WC: Showalter on using Jimenez over Britton

Bautista bomb: Bautista seems to live for the big moments, and he proved it once again. Toronto's cleanup hitter lifted an 88-mph fastball from Tillman and sent it over the wall in left field for his fifth homer in 12 career postseason games. According to Statcast™, the solo shot was projected to travel 357 feet and left his bat at 101 mph. The home run had a launch angle of 37.8 degrees, which was higher than all but two of his 22 homers during the the regular season. In last year's postseason, only one home run had a higher angle (38.4 by Chris Colabello on Oct. 12 vs. Texas).

"Just looking for a fastball in the zone," Bautista said. "I was surprised he challenged me with a second fastball, but I was leading off the inning, so I didn't expect anything else. It's just a lot of time you get ready for those pitches and they end up not being there. That one was, and I didn't miss it, so I was happy to contribute." More >

Video: BAL@TOR: Bautista crushes 357-foot homer to left

Trumbo's opening act: Playing in his first career postseason game, Mark Trumbo gave the Orioles a temporary lead with a two-run homer in the fourth inning in his second at-bat of the game. The blast also gave the O's some momentum following Kevin Pillar's fantastic grab on Manny Machado's fading liner.

"I couldn't be more proud of the guys in there," Trumbo said. "That is what makes it so difficult, how good a team this is really is, not just on the field but the people. When you are in the foxhole with the guys the entire season and all the work that gets put on behind scenes, it is really tough right now."

Trumbo sent Stroman's offering into left field with an exit velocity of 101 mph and a launch angle of 25 degrees, according to Statcast™. It was projected to travel 354 feet. More >

Video: BAL@TOR: Trumbo launches 354-foot home run to left

Rally time: Down 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Jays scratched and clawed out a run while knocking Tillman out of the game. Michael Saunders blooped a one-out double and Pillar followed that with a double of his own on a ball that was misplayed by right fielder Michael Bourn, causing Saunders to remain at third.

Video: AL WC: Statcast™ measures Saunders, Pillar's doubles

Ezequiel Carrera brought Saunders home with a single to center field, forcing Showalter to turn to reliever Mychal Givens. The right-hander escaped the threat with a double play off the bat of Travis.

Video: AL WC: Carrera drives in Saunders on single to center

Pillar leads Blue Jays' strong field work

KIM'S CATCH AND AN ON-FIELD TOSS
Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim made a catch in deep left field to end the bottom of the seventh despite being startled when a fan tossed a beer can onto the field several feet away. Adam Jones came running over from center field and was visibly upset, pointing his finger into the stands and yelling. Showalter also headed out to the field to express his concern.

"I didn't see the person that did it. Because I was looking at Kim catch the ball and then I saw the beer hit the ground, literally a foot from him," Jones said. "And I looked in that direction and then I told them all how I felt. That's just not part of baseball, man. Cuss us out, we hear it everywhere we go. But to do that, I hope they find the person and I hope they prosecute him. To do that, it's illegal." More >

Video: AL WC: Fan nearly interferes with Kim's catch

OSUNA OUT
Working in his second inning of relief, Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna left the game with one out in the top of the 10th inning and was replaced by winning pitcher Francisco Liriano. Osuna, who retired all four batters he faced, left following a visit from head athletic trainer George Poulis and Gibbons, after getting Chris Davis to fly out to right field to start the inning.

"Front part of my shoulder," Osuna said when asked what the injury was. "It was like a stretch. When I threw the fastball up and away, it went like this, like a pretty big stretch and it started bothering me. So I threw one more pitch and it got bigger and I was like I can't do it anymore. … The doctor told me that I was going to be fine. I just need a couple of days off." More >

Video: AL WC: Gibbons explains why he took Osuna out

O's Jones on Jays: 'Tip your cap to them'

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays:
The Jays will now travel to Arlington for the first two games in a best-of-five ALDS matchup with the Rangers. It's a rematch of last year that Toronto won in five games thanks in large part to Bautista's three-run homer in the finale. The Blue Jays have yet to announce a starter for Game 1, but the club likely will go with either left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.18 ERA) or right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Jose Bautista, Zach Britton, Ezequiel Carrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Mychal Givens, Hyun Soo Kim, Darren O'Day, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman, Chris Tillman, Mark Trumbo

Encarnacion joins Blue Jays postseason homer lore

MLB.com

TORONTO -- Last year, Jose Bautista did the bat flip heard 'round the world. This time, it was Edwin Encarnacion's time to shine.

Encarnacion cemented his spot in Blue Jays history with a walk-off three-run homer that sent his team to a dramatic 5-2 victory Tuesday night over the Orioles in the American League Wild Card Game. The second he made contact, everybody knew it was gone.

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- Last year, Jose Bautista did the bat flip heard 'round the world. This time, it was Edwin Encarnacion's time to shine.

Encarnacion cemented his spot in Blue Jays history with a walk-off three-run homer that sent his team to a dramatic 5-2 victory Tuesday night over the Orioles in the American League Wild Card Game. The second he made contact, everybody knew it was gone.

View Full Game Coverage

In typical Blue Jays fashion, Encarnacion could not help but add a little flair to the celebration. As soon as the ball left his bat, Encarnacion raised both of his hands into the air, dropped the bat and gave a quick glance toward the O's dugout -- the biggest moment yet for one of the league's biggest stars.

:: AL Wild Card: Orioles vs. Blue Jays coverage ::

"I was really happy, mostly because it was an extra-inning game," Encarnacion said after putting his team back in the AL Division Series vs. the Rangers starting Thursday in Arlington at 4:30 p.m. ET (TBS in the U.S., Sportsnet in Canada). "It was just a very special moment for us, and it was just nice to see the ball leave the ballpark."

Bautista was the one responsible for putting the Blue Jays on the map during last year's ALDS vs. the Rangers. In Game 5, Bautista made headlines all over the world with a three-run shot off Texas reliever Sam Dyson. That homer gave Toronto a 6-3 lead in the seventh inning and helped his team advance to the AL Championship Series vs. Kansas City.

It's rather fitting that this year, the baton has been passed to Encarnacion. The two Dominican players have been teammates since 2009 and remain close friends both on and off the field. They've seen it all in this city. They were around for the dog days of the organization when the team had trouble attracting fans and even more difficulty competing against the AL East powerhouses of Boston and New York.

What a difference a couple of years make. The Blue Jays' resurgence began at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the momentum carried over into yet another run to the postseason in 2016. An organization that now leads the AL in attendance gets historic numbers on television and apparently now hits a lot of big home runs in the postseason.

Video: AL WC: Gibbons on his confidence in Encarnacion

"As soon as he touched it, we knew it was gone," said Bautista, who had a front-row view from the on-deck circle. "It was a great job on his part, getting a good pitch to hit and not missing it. He gave us the win and I'm just excited.

"Any time we can get to win a game, it doesn't matter who does it. Having a teammate and a friend do it in such a big moment, it's awesome. As soon as he hit the ball, I knew it was gone, I was celebrating and probably felt just as good as he did."

Baltimore right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez became the victim in this scenario. After Encarnacion lifted the ball into the air, Jimenez turned and watched it sail toward the second deck in left field. He probably didn't need to, because there was no doubt about where this one was headed.

Video: BAL@TOR: Edwin's walk-off homer travels 440 feet

Encarnacion's home run went a projected 440 feet, which was tied for his third longest this season and seventh longest in the postseason Statcast™ Era. It also was the third-longest hit by anyone this season during extra innings and the second-longest extra-innings walk-off behind only St. Louis' Matt Adams (444 feet).

After the game, Jimenez said he was trying to get a sinker down in the zone for a potential inning-ending double play. He added, "But it didn't do anything. It stayed up." So did the trajectory of Encarnacion's homer and the emotions of a sold-out Rogers Centre. Toronto lives to see another day and a rematch vs. Texas awaits. The Blue Jays can only hope some big home runs make the trip south with them.

"He'll tell you the same thing, that was the biggest home run he's hit in his whole life," Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar said. "What a way to end the game. To go 11 innings, biting on your nails, runs were tough to come -- for him to step up at that time and put the ball in the seats makes it that much more sweet."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Edwin Encarnacion

'Terrific' Stroman limits O's in quality start

Right-hander allows Trumbo's two-run HR, racks up 6 K's
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Some questioned the decision to hand Marcus Stroman the ball in the American League Wild Card Game against the Orioles, but he passed the test with flying colors in Tuesday night's walk-off 5-2 victory.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called the 25-year-old right-hander a "big-game pitcher," and Stroman gave Toronto six innings of two-run ball on an efficient 81 pitches. The Blue Jays won in the 11th inning on Edwin Encarnacion's three-run homer, sending Toronto to the AL Division Series vs. the Rangers, starting Thursday in Texas (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS/Sportsnet/TVA).

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- Some questioned the decision to hand Marcus Stroman the ball in the American League Wild Card Game against the Orioles, but he passed the test with flying colors in Tuesday night's walk-off 5-2 victory.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called the 25-year-old right-hander a "big-game pitcher," and Stroman gave Toronto six innings of two-run ball on an efficient 81 pitches. The Blue Jays won in the 11th inning on Edwin Encarnacion's three-run homer, sending Toronto to the AL Division Series vs. the Rangers, starting Thursday in Texas (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS/Sportsnet/TVA).

View Full Game Coverage

• Blue Jays postseason gear

"I know what I'm capable of," Stroman said. "I know a lot of people doubted me, didn't want me to start, didn't think I could pitch in this moment. I can't tell you enough how confident this group is in this clubhouse and how much we don't care about outside opinions. We keep it in house, we know what we can do, and we go out every day and compete."

:: ALDS: Blue Jays vs. Rangers coverage ::

Part of the reason Gibbons turned to Stroman was his ability to keep the ball on the ground and work efficiently. Stroman had the highest ground-ball rate in the Majors this year among qualifiers, at 60 percent, which helped neutralize the Orioles' home run-hitting offense.

Baltimore earned 51.9 percent of its runs via the homer this season, second highest in MLB history. On Tuesday, the Orioles' offense was limited to just one long ball, a two-run shot off the bat of Mark Trumbo in the top of the fourth inning.

"I felt really strong the entire start," Stroman said. "Even the pitch Trumbo hit, it wasn't a bad pitch. It was down and he did a great job getting to it. [Catcher] Russell Martin and I prepared all day for this, and we executed. I thought I had a really good mix of pitches with my curveball, cutter and sinker, and just really did work to keep them off-balance."

Video: AL WC: Gibbons on Stroman's electric stuff in win

Stroman's candidacy for Tuesday's start was debated due to the Orioles' struggles against left-handed pitchers, with southpaw Francisco Liriano also given consideration. Stroman entered Tuesday's game with 1-2 record and a 7.04 ERA in four regular-season starts vs. the O's in 2016.

Despite those numbers, Stroman has pitched for the Blue Jays in big moments before. He started Game 5 of last season's AL Division Series against the Rangers, which was ultimately decided on Jose Bautista's bat-flip home run. Stroman also was given the ball on Opening Day against the Rays, and for the Blue Jays' home opener against the Red Sox.

"That's his makeup. The bigger the stage, the bigger he shows up, and we knew he was going to come out and perform tonight," Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said. "It's no surprise to anyone in this clubhouse. You throw the numbers out the window when it comes to big games, and you trust your guy. Marcus was terrific tonight."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman

O's Jones on Jays: 'Tip your cap to them'

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Orioles fought valiantly on Tuesday night, turning in a memorable American League Wild Card Game despite the 5-2 loss in 11 innings.

"It was a great game. Overall, I think we played a hell of a game. So did they," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "Tip your cap to them and how they played. Tip your cap to how their pitchers pitched and how my pitchers pitched. They all went out there and dealt and did really well until the end.

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- The Orioles fought valiantly on Tuesday night, turning in a memorable American League Wild Card Game despite the 5-2 loss in 11 innings.

"It was a great game. Overall, I think we played a hell of a game. So did they," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "Tip your cap to them and how they played. Tip your cap to how their pitchers pitched and how my pitchers pitched. They all went out there and dealt and did really well until the end.

View Full Game Coverage

:: AL Wild Card: Orioles vs. Blue Jays coverage ::

"I'm happy with everyone in this clubhouse that's donning black and orange."

Baltimore and Toronto's bullpens traded zeroes for most of the game, as the Blue Jays' relief corps -- a group that had struggled over the last month of the season -- was able to hold off a potent O's lineup.

"Their pitchers did the same [job as ours]," catcher Matt Wieters said. "That was playoff baseball, especially in a one-game series where everyone is giving everything they have. It was going to be tough to score runs. They just got the last swing at it."

Video: AL WC: Gibbons on his team's battle-tested nature

Added Blue Jays manager John Gibbons: "Both teams played so well. Both teams deserved to win that game. I said many times, there's something to having that last at-bat. That's why you love the chance to play at home."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Baltimore Orioles

Statcast of the Day: Bourn has mixed results

MLB.com

TORONTO -- With the Blue Jays trailing the Orioles by a run in the bottom of the fifth inning of the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday, Toronto came up with two unlikely hits to spur a game-tying rally in its eventual 5-2 win in 11 innings.

Michael Saunders sparked the rally with a lazy fly ball down the left-field line off O's right-hander Chris Tillman, as it had an exit velocity of just 83.6 mph with a launch angle of 33 degrees and going a projected 282 feet before bouncing into the stands.

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- With the Blue Jays trailing the Orioles by a run in the bottom of the fifth inning of the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday, Toronto came up with two unlikely hits to spur a game-tying rally in its eventual 5-2 win in 11 innings.

Michael Saunders sparked the rally with a lazy fly ball down the left-field line off O's right-hander Chris Tillman, as it had an exit velocity of just 83.6 mph with a launch angle of 33 degrees and going a projected 282 feet before bouncing into the stands.

View Full Game Coverage

Out of 262 batted balls this year with an 84-mph exit velocity and a launch angle between 31 and 35 degrees, only two dropped for hits. But Saunders placed his perfectly, out of the reach of Hyun Soo Kim, for a ground-rule double.

:: AL Wild Card: Orioles vs. Blue Jays coverage ::

"It's frustrating," Tillman said. "You can't defend that. You can't prepare for that. You'd like them to hit at it your guys every time but it doesn't always happen that way."

Kevin Pillar, the next batter, got on top of a fastball that was 4.6 feet off the ground, and he hit a fly ball down the right-field line that Michael Bourn couldn't handle. It also wasn't hit particularly hard, leaving the bat at 92.4 mph with a launch angle of 23 degrees, going a projected 302 feet.

Tweet from @mike_petriello: Pillar hit..1) was 4.6 feet off ground, 2nd highest ball for a hit this year (Marwin, 5/13)2) had .141 expected BA.via the great @darenw pic.twitter.com/VukMHILS6T

Only one hit this season came on a higher pitch, and batted balls with similar traits had a batting average of just .141. Yet this one also dropped for a double, sending Saunders to third, as Bourn had to run a long way for the ball and took a sub-optimal route, ultimately just missing the catch. Bourn covered 105 feet with a top speed of 18.9 mph, but he had a route efficiency of just 89.2 percent. One batter later, Ezequiel Carrera's single scored Saunders with the tying run.

Video: AL WC: Bourn sprints to the corner to make fine grab

Bourn's blunder was in sharp contrast to a couple of great plays he made earlier in the game, robbing Troy Tulowitzki of extra bases in a similar spot in the corner in the second inning, then traveling a long way to grab a Josh Donaldson popup in foul ground. In fact, on that Donaldson play, Bourn's distance covered of 145 feet in 6.58 seconds was the longest anyone ran all season to catch a ball that had a hang time of less than seven seconds, per Statcast™.

"We had some good defensive plays before that," Tillman said. "So I think it kind of evened itself out."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Michael Bourn

Pillar leads Blue Jays' strong defense vs. O's

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The 2016 Blue Jays may not have the same offense as last year's ballclub, but the defense has become an unmistakable staple of the current team's identity.

While Toronto's 5-2 victory over the Orioles in Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game will be remembered for Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off home run in the 11th, the team's defense gave the Blue Jays a chance to hang tight all evening before breaking through.

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- The 2016 Blue Jays may not have the same offense as last year's ballclub, but the defense has become an unmistakable staple of the current team's identity.

While Toronto's 5-2 victory over the Orioles in Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game will be remembered for Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off home run in the 11th, the team's defense gave the Blue Jays a chance to hang tight all evening before breaking through.

View Full Game Coverage

• Blue Jays postseason gear

:: ALDS: Blue Jays vs. Rangers coverage ::

A trio of spectacular defensive plays highlighted the outing, with Kevin Pillar starting things off with one of his patented sliding catches to rob Manny Machado of extra bases in the top of the fourth. According to Statcast™, the ball had a hang time of 4.4 seconds and landed 75 feet from where Pillar was positioned at the start of the play. Batted balls with that combination were converted into outs just 44 percent of the time (17 of 39) in 2016.

Troy Tulowitzki added to the highlights by stealing a base hit away from Jonathan Schoop deep in the hole in the fifth. Josh Donaldson then calmed a tense Rogers Centre crowd by showing off his range in the top of the 10th against Schoop, with Encarnacion completing the assist at first with a tricky recovery in the dirt.

"The defense on this team is always unbelievable," said Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman, the recipient of Pillar and Tulowitzki's highlight-reel efforts. "That's why I pitch the way I do -- I trust the guys behind me -- and I trust every single member of our team. I pitch with that mentality that I'm going to come at you, I'm going to have you guys put the ball in play, and I trust the guys to make the play."

Video: AL WC: Tulo dives, throws out Schoop at first

While the Blue Jays' run-scoring prowess has come and gone this season, the ability to limit opposing teams has allowed Toronto to win three close games over the past four days. 

"Those kinds of defensive plays pump our crowd and they excite our guys," Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis said. "Our team has been able to do this all season, and it's been fun learning from some of the veterans like JD and like Tulo."

Video: AL WC: Donaldson fields with bare hand, nabs Wieters

Toronto's restructuring on the defensive end started to pay dividends last season. The acquisition of Donaldson from Oakland, Pillar's eventual takeover as the everyday center fielder in early April, Encarnacion's improved play around first base and Tulowitzki's addition at the Trade Deadline have all carried over to this season.

With the Blue Jays' pitching staff finishing the season as one of the top statistical units and featuring a variety of ground-ball and fly-ball specialists, the consistency of the defence once again complemented all six Toronto pitchers on Tuesday.

"It's been our blueprint this year," Pillar said. "We have had good pitching and we have good defense. It started last year, when we went out and got some of these guys -- like Tulo -- who are two-way players. They go hand in hand. When our pitchers work fast, that's how we play defence to keep us in the game, and tonight it really showed."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Pillar

Bautista's second-inning HR adds to postseason tally

Veteran slugger helps lift Blue Jays to ALDS matchup with Rangers
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Jose Bautista lives for the big moments. In case anybody forgot that, he reminded them on Tuesday night.

Bautista opened the second inning of the American League Wild Card Game vs. Baltimore with a bang. He lifted a 3-1 fastball from Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman and sent it over the left-field wall for an early lead in what turned out to be 5-2 victory in 11 innings. The win sends Toronto to the AL Division Series vs. the Rangers starting Thursday in Texas (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS and Sportsnet).

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- Jose Bautista lives for the big moments. In case anybody forgot that, he reminded them on Tuesday night.

Bautista opened the second inning of the American League Wild Card Game vs. Baltimore with a bang. He lifted a 3-1 fastball from Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman and sent it over the left-field wall for an early lead in what turned out to be 5-2 victory in 11 innings. The win sends Toronto to the AL Division Series vs. the Rangers starting Thursday in Texas (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS and Sportsnet).

View Full Game Coverage

Get official Blue Jays postseason gear

"Just looking for a fastball in the zone," Bautista said after the game. "I was surprised he challenged me with a second fastball, but I was leading off the inning, so I didn't expect anything else. It's just a lot of time you get ready for those pitches and they end up not being there. That one was and I didn't miss it, so I was happy to contribute."

:: ALDS: Blue Jays vs. Rangers coverage ::

According to Statcast™, the ball was projected to travel 357 feet and left Bautista's bat at 101 mph. The moon shot had a launch angle of 37.8 degrees. Bautista had just two homers all season with a higher launch angle, and there was just one homer last postseason -- the first of the Statcast™ Era -- that left the bat at a steeper angle. That blast came off the bat of Toronto's Chris Colabello, who hit one with a launch angle of 38.4 degrees in Game 4 of the ALDS against Texas.

It was Bautista's fifth home run in 12 career postseason games, and it joins other big moments such as the bat-flip homer during Game 5 of last year's ALDS and a two-run shot vs. Kansas City in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series.

Thankfully for the Blue Jays, it wasn't the most memorable home run of the game, because there were plenty of heroics left in store. Edwin Encarnacion was the one who ended things in the bottom of the 11th with a three-run shot into the second deck in left field.

Video: Must C Clutch: Bautista's blast puts Blue Jays ahead

Bautista had a perfect view of the shot from the on-deck circle, and he immediately ran onto the field to celebrate with his teammate and close friend.

"Any time we can get to win a game, it doesn't matter who does it," Bautista said. "Having a teammate and a friend do it in such a big moment, it's awesome. As soon as he hit the ball, I knew it was gone. I was celebrating and probably felt just as good as he did."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Bautista

How they were built: Orioles

Baltimore among four clubs tied for most homegrown players on projected Division Series roster
MLB.com

MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the playoff teams was built, looking at the composition of projected Division Series rosters.

For the third time in five years, the Baltimore Orioles are in the postseason. The Orioles got hot at the right time down the stretch, winning their final five road series and seven of their last nine games to claim the second American League Wild Card spot with an 89-73 overall record.

MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the playoff teams was built, looking at the composition of projected Division Series rosters.

For the third time in five years, the Baltimore Orioles are in the postseason. The Orioles got hot at the right time down the stretch, winning their final five road series and seven of their last nine games to claim the second American League Wild Card spot with an 89-73 overall record.

How the postseason teams were built

That Baltimore's core position players remained healthy was a major reason that the club finished with a Major League-leading 253 home runs, the most since the Blue Jays went deep 256 times in 2010. The O's had six players finish with at least 20 home runs, with Mark Trumbo leading the way with an MLB-best 47, and all but one of them logged at least 152 games played.

Furthermore, it was the Orioles' robust offense that helped to compensate for a starting rotation that ranked 13th in the AL in both ERA (4.72) and WHIP (1.41). Baltimore's bullpen also was key to the club's success, as it paced the circuit with a 3.40 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .243 average.

Here's a look at how each player on the O's projected Division Series roster was initially acquired during his current stint with the club:

HOMEGROWN
Player, how acquired, year
Zach Britton, Draft, 2006 (3rd)
Dylan Bundy, Draft, 2011 (1st)
Kevin Gausman, Draft, 2012 (1st)
Mychal Givens, Draft, 2009 (2nd)
Donnie Hart, Draft, 2013 (27th)
Hyun Soo Kim, Int'l sign, 2015
Caleb Joseph, Draft, 2008 (7th)
Manny Machado, Draft, 2010 (1st)
Jonathan Schoop, Int'l sign, 2008
Matt Wieters, Draft, 2007 (1st)

Tied for the most homegrown talent on a projected playoff roster with 10 players, the Orioles' roster is testimony to the club's success in the Draft. That was particularly true of its recent first-round picks, as Machado (2010), Bundy ('11) and Gausman ('12) were all major contributors for the O's this season.

Bundy's comeback and season-long success, first as a reliever and then a starter, also represented a victory for Baltimore's player development staff after the right-hander had missed much of the past three years with myriad injuries.

Both Machado and Schoop enjoyed career seasons at the plate at ages 23 and 24, with the duo combining for 62 home runs, 77 doubles and 178 RBIs. Kim, whom the Orioles signed to a two-year, $7 million deal out of South Korea before the season, was better than expected in his first year in the States, posting an .802 OPS in 95 games, and his pinch-hit go-ahead home run against Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna on Sept. 30 will be remembered as one of the biggest hits by an Oriole this season.

Zach Britton emerged as baseball's top closer and a viable AL Cy Young Award candidate in 2016, going a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities while posting a 0.54 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a paltry .162 average.

TRADES/WAIVERS
Player, year, acquired from
Michael Bourn, 2016, D-backs
Brad Brach, 2013, Padres
Chris Davis, 2011, Rangers
Ryan Flaherty, 2011, Cubs
** J.J. Hardy, 2010, Twins
Adam Jones, 2008, Mariners
Wade Miley, 2016, Mariners
Darren O'Day, 2011, Rangers
* Chris Tillman, 2008, Mariners
Mark Trumbo, 2015, Mariners
* Acquired via Waivers
** Acquired via Rule 5 Draft

The Orioles have done quite well when trading with the Mariners. They landed five-time All-Star Jones and staff win leader Tillman in the same 2008 deal, while Trumbo went on to pace Major Leagues in home runs this season after being traded for the second time since the start of 2015. And even though Miley's performance fluctuated down the stretch, the veteran lefty provided the O's with key rotation depth after being acquired at the Trade Deadline.

After he had earned All-Star honors a year ago, O'Day passed the torch to fellow reliever Brach in 2016. Serving as the Orioles' primary late-inning bridge to Britton, Brach notched 10 wins while appearing in a career-high 71 games, good for a fourth-place tie among AL relievers.

The O's shelled out big bucks to re-sign Davis during the offseason, giving the 30-year-old slugger a seven-year, $161 million deal after he had paced the AL in home runs in two of the previous three years. Though he failed to win another home run title in 2016, the veteran slugger still managed 38 homers in 157 games, the third-highest total of his career.

FREE AGENTS
Player, year
Pedro Alvarez, 2016
Brian Duensing, 2016
Yovani Gallardo, 2016
Tommy Hunter, 2016
Ubaldo Jimenez, 2014

Alvarez was one of the last free agents to sign during the offseason, inking a one-year, $5.75 million pact in March. The deal proved to be a bargain, as Alvarez would go on to post a career-high .829 OPS and bash 22 homers as designated hitter.

The late-season additions of Duensing and Hunter, both of whom inked Minor League deals, were key in stabilizing the bullpen down the stretch.

Jimenez, in the third year of a four-year, $50 million deal, was the Orioles' top starter down the stretch, going 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA over his final seven starts. And although offseason signee Gallardo, the recipient of a two-year, $22 million deal, didn't produce the return the O's might have hoped for, he still gave the club 118 innings and 23 starts.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Baltimore Orioles

How they were built: Blue Jays

Three different front-office regimes have bolstered Toronto's team with trades
MLB.com

MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the playoff teams was built, looking at the composition of Division Series rosters.

After missing the postseason for 21 consecutive years, the Blue Jays are back in the playoffs for the second straight October. Unlike the other four clubs that reached the postseason in both 2015 and '16 (Cubs, Dodgers, Mets and Rangers), Toronto did so with two front-office administrations.

MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the playoff teams was built, looking at the composition of Division Series rosters.

After missing the postseason for 21 consecutive years, the Blue Jays are back in the playoffs for the second straight October. Unlike the other four clubs that reached the postseason in both 2015 and '16 (Cubs, Dodgers, Mets and Rangers), Toronto did so with two front-office administrations.

:: How the postseason teams were built ::

When the Blue Jays lured Mark Shapiro from the Indians and named him president and CEO last November, Alex Anthopoulos opted to leave the franchise after six years as general manager. Shapiro subsequently brought Ross Atkins over from Cleveland to serve as GM.

Though they didn't have many holes to plug, Shapiro and Atkins have put their stamp on the team. They traded for seven players on Toronto's ALDS playoff roster, including four since the start of the season, and found some bullpen help in the form of an astute Rule 5 Draft pick.

Here's a look at how each player on the Blue Jays' ALDS Division Series roster was initially acquired during his current stint with the club:

HOMEGROWN
Player, how acquired, year

Brett Cecil, Draft, 2007 (supplemental 1st round)
Aaron Loup, Draft, 2009 (9th round)
Ryan Tepera, Draft, 2009 (19th round)
Aaron Sanchez, Draft, 2010 (supplemental 1st round)
Kevin Pillar, Draft, 2011 (33rd round)
Roberto Osuna, Int'l sign, 2011
Marcus Stroman, Draft, 2012 (1st round)

The Blue Jays have just seven homegrown players on their postseason roster, fewer than any other AL playoff club, and ahead of only the Cubs (five) and Nationals (six) in the National League. Anthopoulos did make liberal use of his farm system in a series of midsummer trades that put Toronto over the top in 2015, though Atkins concedes that the club would like to develop more of its own players in the future.

"There are all different ways to make your team better and ultimately it's about results," Atkins said. "But our goal is to scout, sign and develop Blue Jays players from our system. This is no secret to anyone."

The Blue Jays' most significant homegrown players are a pair of premium Draft picks. A projectable California high school pitcher, Aaron Sanchez signed for $775,000 as the 34th overall choice in 2010. After serving mostly as a reliever as a rookie a year ago, he went 14-2 and became an All-Star in his first season as a full-time starter.

Marcus Stroman had the stuff to go near the top of the 2012 Draft, but too many teams focused on his lack of size (5-foot-8) rather than his tremendous arm speed and athleticism. Toronto gratefully snapped him up with the 22nd overall choice and a $1.8 million bonus, and installed him in its rotation 22 months after he signed.

In the year in between Sanchez and Stroman, the Jays scored with a 33rd-round senior sign. Kevin Pillar went undrafted after setting an NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hitting streak in 2010 and had to settle for a $1,000 bonus a year later, but he didn't let that stop him from developing into one of baseball's best defensive center fielders.

The lone homegrown international signee on the playoff roster is Roberto Osuna, whose rights were purchased from the Mexican League's Mexico City Red Devils for $1.5 million in 2011. The Blue Jays groomed him as a starter until he had Tommy John surgery in 2013. After he missed most of 2014, Osuna surprisingly made the Opening Day roster in 2015 and took over as their closer by June.

TRADES/WAIVERS
Player, year, acquired from

Jose Bautista, 2008, Pirates
Edwin Encarnacion, 2009, Reds
+ Justin Smoak, 2014, Mariners
Marco Estrada, 2014, Brewers
Devon Travis, 2014, Tigers
Josh Donaldson, 2014, Athletics
Michael Saunders, 2014, Mariners
Troy Tulowitzki, 2015, Rockies
Darwin Barney, 2015, Dodgers
* Joe Biagini, 2015, Giants
Jason Grilli, 2016, Braves
Melvin Upton, 2016, Padres
Francisco Liriano, 2016, Pirates
Scott Feldman, 2016, Astros
Dioner Navarro, 2016, White Sox
* Acquired via Rule 5 Draft
+ Acquired via waivers

Among this year's playoff clubs, only the Cubs (14) traded for more players than the Blue Jays (13). J.P. Ricciardi, who preceded Anthopoulos as GM, pulled off two deals that continue to pay off. Getting six-time All-Star Jose Bautista from the Pirates straight up for Robinzon Diaz in 2008 was an absolute heist, while grabbing three-time All-Star and 2016 AL RBI leader Encarnacion as one of three youngsters from the Reds for Scott Rolen in 2009 was another prescient move.

Anthopoulos loved to wheel and deal, and his best transaction was getting 2015 AL MVP Award winner Donaldson from the Athletics for four players (the most notable of whom is prospect Franklin Barreto) in November 2014. Earlier that month, he liberated Travis from the Tigers for the low cost of Anthony Gose. Anthopoulos also swung a pair of blockbusters last July that resulted in a division title, giving up top prospects Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman as well as four other young arms and Jose Reyes to get Tulowitzki from the Rockies and since-departed David Price from the Tigers.

Shapiro and Atkins traded for five members of the postseason roster, most significantly for Liriano in July. Not only were they able to get someone to bolster their rotation without giving up a prospect -- they parted with young veteran Drew Hutchison -- they actually added two prospects in catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez by agreeing to take on all of the remaining $17.4 million remaining on Liriano's contract. It's a rare deal that actually could help a contender in both the short term and the long term.

"Going into the Deadline, our goal was to improve the Major League team without depleting the farm system," Atkins said. "A lot of the trades made the year before made it harder to trade prospects because we didn't have as many as the organization did one year prior.

"With the Liriano deal, we worked with the Pirates for a long time. He was someone we felt had upside, the year of control was interesting, the playoff experience was interesting, the stuff was still interesting even if the strike-throwing was down. The opportunity to add prospects to it came relatively late."

Toronto is just one of three playoff teams with a Rule 5 Draft pick, and the only one that claimed its guy at last year's Winter Meetings. The Jays plucked Biagini from the Giants for the $50,000 Draft price, an investment that already has paid off as he has become one of their most reliable relievers.

FREE AGENTS
Player, year

Russell Martin, 2014
Ezequiel Carrera, 2014
J.A. Happ, 2015

With a middle-of-the-pack payroll, the Blue Jays don't swim into free-agent waters too often. Martin is a rare exception, signing the largest free-agent deal in franchise history (five years, $82 million) in November 2014. The native Canadian earned All-Star honors in his first season of north of the border and has delivered 43 homers in two years with Toronto.

The new regime made just one free-agent move during its first offseason, and it couldn't have turned out much better. Happ, a former Blue Jay who was traded to the Mariners for Michael Saunders in December 2014, came back to Toronto for three years and $36 million. He nearly doubled his career high for victories this year, going 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA.

"I was interviewing while they were negotiating with J.A.," said Atkins, who joined Toronto six days after Happ did. "Mark and [assistant GM] Tony [LaCava] were very opportunistic and made a decision quickly that turned out to be very productive. He has exceeded expectations, but at the same time, if you watch the guy work and go about his job and talk about his job, you're not surprised at all."

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays