The highly anticipated AL Wildcard game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles ended with the defeat of the Orioles sending them two games back.
The Blue Jays and Orioles were evenly matched as both teams had identical records of 89-73 in their 19 match-ups throughout the season. Toronto held a slight advantage going 10-9 against their division foes. They had a well-rounded offense and solid starting pitching rotation, but had problems with their bullpen. Baltimore on the other hand had hit the most home runs out of any other team in the whole league. They had a strong relief pitching staff, but their starting pitching was weak.
The two pitchers set to face off were Marcus Stroman of Toronto and Chris Tillman for the Orioles. In the bottom of the second inning, Jose Bautista hit a solo home run. Two innings later, Mark Trumbo, who led the league with 47 Home Runs in the Regular season, hit a two run blast. Unfortunately for the Orioles, those two runs would be all they scored in the entire game.
An inning and a half later, Toronto responded by driving in one more run from a single to tie the game. Tillman only pitched a four and a third innings, with four strikeouts, while Stroman went for six innings, with six strikeouts. After the starting pitchers came out of the game, each team’s bullpen was stellar. Baltimore’s relievers went for nearly six innings without allowing a run, pushing the game into extra innings.
Ubaldo Jimenez for Baltimore came into the game with one out in the eleventh inning. Devon Travis of Toronto led off the inning with a single. Josh Donaldson ripped another single, and because of an error, Travis was able to make it all the way to third base.
Arguably the best hitter on the Blue Jays was up next, Edward Encarnacion on the first pitch of his at-bat drove Jimenez’s pitch far out into the stands. Right after the swing, Encarnacion lifted his arms in triumph, knowing the victory was theirs.
Baltimore’s coach Buck Showalter may be haunted during the off-season because his closer Zach Britton never entered the game. Britton was exceptional this season with 47 saves. Afterwards, he expressed some frustration about the situation. Subsequently, the Blue Jays will advance to play the Texas Rangers.