15 for '15: Wild 7th inning was one for the ages
Blue Jays-Rangers thrilled with dramatic, memorable ALDS frame
In what has become a year-end tradition, MLB.com takes a look back at the top storylines of the year -- the Top 15 for 2015.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays went 22 years between postseason appearances, but the wait that seemed like an eternity might have all been worth it because of one inning in the American League Division Series.
Jose Bautista's three-run homer during the seventh inning of Game 5 capped a chaotic scene and sent Toronto to its first postseason series victory since 1993. It was the bat flip heard 'round the world and will go down as one of the biggest moments in Canadian sports history, but there was a lot more to it than just one swing.
The seventh inning between the Rangers and Blue Jays was 53 minutes of mayhem that included three errors, a dugouts-clearing altercation, Bautista's homer and one of the strangest plays in postseason history. Even Hollywood would have a hard time believing this script, but fans north of the border certainly won't be forgetting it any time soon.
"This is going to go down as one of the great games that we ever played here," former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said at the time.
He certainly wasn't wrong.
The decisive Game 5 was tied at 2 when Texas' Rougned Odor led off the seventh with a single to left. Two outs later, Odor was standing on third when the tense situation was interrupted by a bizarre scene that led to mass confusion. A routine play turned into anything but when Russell Martin's throw back to the mound hit the bat of Shin-Soo Choo and rolled down the third-base line.
Odor took off for home and scored standing up, but home-plate umpire Dale Scott waved the play off. He originally thought it was a dead ball, but after the umpiring crew converged and had a lengthy discussion, they realized the play should not have been stopped and the run was allowed to score.
The sold-out crowd at Rogers Centre went into a state of disbelief and the ensuing anger resulted in a countless number of beer cups being tossed onto the field. For several agonizing minutes, it appeared as though the Blue Jays' season was going to end on one of the most bizarre plays the game has ever seen.
"It's a situation where you feel [one of] two ways -- you either feel sorry for yourself or you do something about it," Martin said.
The Blue Jays did something about it in the bottom half of the inning, with a major assist from Texas' infield. Martin began the seventh with an easy ground ball to shortstop, but it was bobbled by Elvis Andrus and suddenly Toronto had renewed hope.
Mitch Moreland followed with an errant throw, Andrus couldn't catch an easy force at third and just like that, the Blue Jays had the bases loaded on three consecutive errors. Two batters later, Odor misread a popup by Josh Donaldson that turned into a forceout at second base and the game was tied without a single hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time there has been three errors in a single inning of a sudden-death game.
"I couldn't make plays I've made a hundred times before," Andrus recalled.
The Bautista blast
The final blow came moments later when Bautista unloaded on a 1-1 fastball from Sam Dyson and sent it deep into the left-field seats. Toronto's star slugger knew it was gone the second it left his bat and couldn't help but admire it from the batter's box as the weight of an entire country was lifted off his shoulders.
According to Statcast™, the ball was projected to land 431 feet away. Bautista tossed his bat high into the air, and complete bedlam broke out in the stadium. Once and for all, Blue Jays fans had a reason to celebrate, and after waiting 12 years for this moment, Bautista could not have written it any better.
"I knew it was gone. I was enjoying it," Bautista said. "It was a huge moment in the game, I knew I did something great for the team and that's it. I don't remember much after that until I ran the bases and got into the dugout. That's when I started coming to again."