Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen turned a breezy cruise to victory into a great ballgame with a tense finish on Friday afternoon in Arlington, but managed to hold on to give the club a commanding 2-0 lead over the Texas Rangers.
The game, it should be said off the top, was marred somewhat by a scary incident involving Francisco Liriano, who took a Carlos Gomez line drive off the back of the head in the bottom of the eighth. Liriano walked off the mound under his own power and looked fine, but was later transported to hospital for tests. Hopefully that’s all it is, and proceeding with caution certainly makes all the sense, but still, head injuries are obviously dangerous. At the risk of unfairly speculating, I’ll note that an admittedly scarier-looking incident involving Brandon McCarthy when he was with the A’s back in 2012 also saw him walk off the field under his own power, but turned life-threatening . That certainly isn’t to say anything of the sort like that is going on with Liriano, just to remind that the fact that he seemed OK doesn’t necessarily make it so. Without question, what’s most important right now is that Liriano is OK.
Less on the importance scale, but just as relevant to the Jays’ playoff hopes, is the fact that Devon Travis is injured as well. He missed today’s game, and is, in fact, going for an MRI due to knee pain that, according to the post-game tweets I’m seeing, has lingered for a little while, but wasn’t bad enough to keep him off the field until he woke up this morning. Fingers crossed that all goes well with the MRI, but according to those same tweets, Travis didn’t sound optimistic about playing in Game Three.
But Game Three will happen regardless of whether he or Liriano are ready to go, and holy shit, if their health is the most important thing today, the second most important is that the Blue Jays didn’t allow this to suddenly become a series again, and for Game Three to give the Rangers a chance to take the lead in it.
For a while there in the late innings it sure felt like things might have been going south — before Roberto Osuna, and his wonky shoulder and his not-quite-as-sharp-as-we-remember ability to pitch, came in for nervy five-out save.
It was… not ideal. In the innings after the Jays awesomely and unexpected beat the piss out of Yu Darvish with a bunch of solo home runs, it looked like Osuna might have been spared from any action in this one. That would have put him on four days of rest if called upon on Sunday, which seems a whole lot better than where we’re at now.
But Osuna got the job done. And things weren’t maybe as bad in the bullpen as they felt. Yeah, Brett Cecil’s four-pitch walk to Odor was useless, but other Joe Biagini was breezy in the sixth, and recovered well from a lead-off double in the seventh — thanks especially to as close a play at the plate as you’ll ever see, which the Jays (and Josh Donaldson, in particular) are fortunate to have had ruled an out by the umpire. Jason Grilli did everything that was ask of him — which wasn’t much. Jeff Bannister had the lefty Mitch Moreland pinch hit for Ryan Rua to start the eighth, so Gibbers lifted Grilli for Liriano, at which point things got a bit dicey.
A Moreland double, a line out from Andrus, and a Chirinos walk setup the Carlos Gomez at-bat that resulted in the line drive off Liriano’s head — which ricocheted into centre, plated a run, and forced Gibbons to bring Osuna into the game early.
Yes, Osuna got the job done, but not before throwing 31 pitches across two innings, and giving up an Upton-aided double to Adrian Beltre in the ninth.
But they won! What’s with all this downer shit, amiright?
Troy Tulowitzki plays for the Toronto Blue Jays!
Kevin Pillar blasted a home run on a pitch that was, like, a foot above the zone!
We finally, officially, won the Yu Darvish sweepstakes!
The Jays are going back home up 2-0, with a bunch of chances for rest in the days ahead if they can get the job done on Sunday. It’s not over yet, of course. The Jays themselves came back from an 0-2 deficit in last year’s ALDS, so the Rangers remain a serious threat. But oh boy, with Aaron Sanchez on the hill and Darvish and Hamels vanquished, it’s going to be awfully, awfully tough for them.
The Blue Jays remain perfect in October.