The Battle of The Birds was Won by the Parrot – AL Wild Card Recap 2016

All this franchise does is hit crazy 3-run homers.

Number one, the Joe Carter walk-off homer that won the BlueJays their second World Series title in 1993. Number two, the Jose “Bat Flip” Bautista go-ahead homerun that helped the BlueJays win the wildest American League Division Series Game 5 baseball has ever seen in 2015. If you asked me just yesterday what the third one was, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. That’s because it happened last night.

On October 4, 2016 our stomachs were full of butterflies as the Canadian flag was unrolled onto the Rogers Centre baseball field. About 50,000 people were in attendance to witness the do or die American League Wild Card game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Some people calling it “The Battle of The Birds”.

Marcus Stroman was sharp throughout all six innings that he pitched. His final stats were 4H 2ER 0BB and 6Ks. He looked very confident when facing all of the Orioles bats, and he showed us that Height Doesn’t Measure Heart always.

The first inning was nothing special, both pitchers looked great and everyone seemed to be on the top of the focus scale.

Jose Bautista started off the Postseason as we knew he would… with a solo homer! Sadly, there was no bat flip, I assume he’s saving that for Texas! With Bautista’s homer, the Jays were on the board first, 1-0 through the second inning. “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.”

In the top of the fourth inning, Chris Davis shot a go-ahead homerun, and pushed the Orioles ahead of our Blue Jays 2-1. Little did we know, those two runs would be the only runs the Orioles scored in the intense wild card game.

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. Carrera brought Saunders home, which resulted in a tie game. Buck Showalter – Orioles Manager – turned to Michael Givens, and with one pitch Devon Travis grounded into an inning ending double play.

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.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Jays had two on (thanks to a Josh Donaldson lead off double, and an intentional walk to Edwin Encarnacion), one out and with Travis up at bat, he grounded into his second inning ending double play of the game. Off to extra innings we went!

Pitching in relief, Brett Cecil and Joe Biagini (7th inning), Jason Grilli (8th inning), Roberto Osuna (1.1 innings, 9th and 10th), and Fransisco Liriano (1.2 innings, 10th and 11th). They were all spectacular, and didn’t allow one run the entire night.

Just as the Blue Jays fans were getting restless, the Blue Jays stepped it up in the 10th. With one out, Showalter made a controversial decision and decided to go with starter Ubaldo Jimenez to finish the 11th inning, instead of going with his CY Young candidate, Zach Britton. Here’s what Britton had to say about that. “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 offence 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.” Ultimately, it cost the Orioles the game.

On the second pitch of the at bat, Travis singled into left field. One on for the MVP! Donaldson continued the rally and singled, advancing Travis to third base with the help of third base coach Luis Rivera. On the very next pitch, Edwin Encarnacion blasted a 3-run walk-off bomb and our Toronto Blue Jays won the game 5-2 through 11 innings!

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.

“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.”

After the game, the Blue Jays continued with the celebratory champagne soaks!

The Orioles players were interviewed first, and here is what starting catcher Matt Wieters had to say.

“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.”

Buck Showalter was also bombarded with questions about the head-scratching decision about Britton. “He was fine,” Showalter stated. “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.”

The reaction on Twitter was priceless, and most tweeters (including myself) are still in shock about how the 11th inning went down.

Now, where do our Blue Jays stand?

That’s right! We are going back to Arlington to face our favourite (NOT) the Texas Rangers for another ALDS. Check out the newest commercial!

How do you think our Blue Jays will do in the ALDS? I’m about 99.9% sure we will beat them good!

And now I will leave you with this final thought…

Alyssa Cohen

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