A capsule look at the Blue Jays-Rangers playoff series
A look at the best-of-five American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Thursday, at Texas (4:38 p.m.); Game 2, Friday, at Texas (1:08 p.m.); Game 3, Sunday, at Toronto (7:38 p.m.); x-Game 4, Monday, Oct. 10, at Toronto (TBA); x-Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Texas (TBA). (All games on TBS).
Season Series: Blue Jays won 4-3.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (.300, 11 HRs, 50 RBIs), 3B Josh Donaldson (.284, 37, 99), 1B Edwin Encarnacion (.263, 42, 127), DH Jose Bautista (.234, 22, 69), C Russell Martin (.231, 20, 74), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.254, 24, 79), RF Michael Saunders (.253, 24, 57), CF Kevin Pillar (.266, 7, 53), LF Ezequiel Carrera (.248, 6, 23) or Melvin Upton Jr. (.238, 20, 61 with San Diego and Toronto).
Rangers: LF Carlos Gomez (.284, 8, 24 in 33 games with Rangers; .210, 5, 29 in 85 games with Astros), CF Ian Desmond (.285, 22, 86, 107 runs, 160 Ks), DH Carlos Beltran (280, 7, 29 in 52 games with Rangers; .304, 22, 64 in 99 games with Yankees), 3B Adrian Beltre (.300, 32, 104, 31 2Bs), 2B Rougned Odor (.271, 33, 88), C Jonathan Lucroy (.276, 11, 31 in 47 games with Rangers; .299, 13, 50 in 95 games with Brewers), RF Shin-Soo Choo (.242, 7, 17 in 48 games, 4 DL stints), 1B Mitch Moreland (.233, 22, 60), SS Elvis Andrus (.302, 8, 69, 7 3Bs, 24 SBs).
Blue Jays: RH Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48), LH J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.18 ERA), RH Aaron Sanchez (15-2, AL-leading 3.00 ERA), RH Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37, career-high 204 IP).
Rangers: LH Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32, 200 2/3 IP, 200 Ks), RH Yu Darvish (7-5, 3.41), RH Colby Lewis (6-5, 3.71), LHP Martin Perez (10-11, 4.39, 198 2/3 IP).
Blue Jays: RH Roberto Osuna (1-6, 2.68, 36/39 saves), RH Jason Grilli (7-6, 1.29, 81Ks in 59 innings with Atlanta and Toronto), LH Brett Cecil (1-7, 3.96), RH Joe Biagini (4-3, 3.06 in 60 games as a rookie), LH Francisco Liriano (8-13, 4.69 with Pittsburgh and Toronto; 2-2, 2.92 in 10 games, 8 starts, for Blue Jays).
Rangers: RH Sam Dyson (3-2, 2.43, 38/43 saves), RH Tony Barnette (7-3, 2.09), RH Matt Bush (7-2, 2.48, 61 Ks in 61 2/3 IP), LH Alex Claudio (4-1, 2.79), LH Jake Diekman (4-2, 3.40, 4 saves), RH Jeremy Jeffress (1-0, 2.70 in 12 games with Rangers; 2-2, 2.22, 27/28 saves in 47 games with Brewers), RH Keone Kela (5-1, 6.09).
A rematch of the 2015 ALDS that Toronto won in five games, including the wild clincher when Bautista had the go-ahead homer and emphatic bat flip as part of a disastrous seventh inning for the Rangers. They made errors on three consecutive plays, including two by Andrus. ... Toronto has a 208-203 lead all-time in the regular-season series. ... The ALDS opener will be their first meeting since May 15 in Texas, when Odor punched Bautista after the Blue Jays’ slugger made a hard takeout slide at second base in the eighth inning, after he had reached base when hit by a pitch. MLB disciplined 14 players and staff over the melee. The only players suspended were Odor (seven games), Bautista (one game) and Andrus (one game). ... Texas (60-31) and Toronto (58-31) were good during the regular season against the best teams, with the top two records in the majors against clubs that finished .500 or better. ... Texas’ three wins over Toronto this season were all one-run games. Each was won by a reliever, including Bush’s first career victory May 15. ... In the ALDS last season, Texas took a 2-0 series lead by winning the first two games in Toronto, including a 14-inning Game 2. The Blue Jays posted a pair of four-run victories in Texas to force the deciding game at raucous Rogers Centre. ... The Rangers won a franchise-record 53 home games this season, which could come in handy because they have home-field advantage through the postseason. The AL won the All-Star Game for home field in the World Series.
Rangers: The AL West champions had a six-game lead in the division when general manager Jon Daniels pulled off two significant deals in the hours before the non-waiver trade deadline Aug. 1. Lucroy and Jeffress were acquired from Milwaukee, and the Rangers got Beltran (52 postseason games for four teams) from the Yankees. And when the Astros released a struggling Gomez on Aug. 18, the Rangers signed the two-time All-Star two days later and made him their starting left fielder after three games in the minors. Gomez became their primary leadoff hitter the last three weeks of the regular season. ... After not clinching the 2015 division title until the final day of the regular season, Texas had a champagne celebration after winning Game No. 154 this year in Oakland. ... Piloted by manager Jeff Banister, the Rangers (95-67) led the American League in wins and winning percentage (.586) for the first time in franchise history. ... Beltre had his third career .300/30/100 season. He joined Miguel Cabrera (six) and David Ortiz (five) as the only active players with more than one. ... Choo returned for the final weekend of the regular season after missing 39 games with a broken left forearm. ... This is the eighth time the Rangers have made the playoffs. In the previous seven, the only times they won postseason series were in 2010 and 2011 on the way to their lone World Series appearances.
Blue Jays: After snapping a 22-year postseason drought in 2015, Toronto reached the playoffs for the second straight season under manager John Gibbons. The last time the Blue Jays did that was a three-year run from 1991-93 that ended with back-to-back World Series titles. ... This time, the Blue Jays (89-73) captured the top AL wild card by winning their regular-season finale in Boston. Then they beat division-rival Baltimore at home in the wild-card game on Encarnacion’s three-run homer in the 11th inning. ... The Blue Jays went 13-16 in September and October, their first losing month since April (11-14). ... Toronto averaged an AL-worst 3.69 runs per game in September and October, a full run off their season average of 4.70. ... Blue Jays starters were strong down the stretch, allowing no more than one earned run in 12 of the final 17 games. The bullpen struggled, however, blowing leads five times in a seven-game stretch that ended Oct. 1. ... The Blue Jays went 46-35 at home, the fourth-best mark in the division. ... Toronto has several pending free agents, including Bautista, Encarnacion, Saunders, Cecil and RHP R.A. Dickey.
— Banged-up Bullpen. Osuna exited Toronto’s wild-card victory over the Orioles with a sore shoulder. Tests did not reveal any damage, and Osuna said the soreness might be due to fatigue after he pitched 16 regular-season innings in September and October. If he is not available against Texas, Grilli would likely handle the ninth inning. The Blue Jays already are without setup man Joaquin Benoit, who tore his left calf running in from the bullpen during a bench-clearing scrap with the Yankees on Sept. 26.
— Pair of Aces. For the first time, the Rangers have both Hamels and Darvish in their playoff rotation. Darvish, the three-time All-Star from Japan whose only MLB postseason appearance was a loss in the 2012 AL wild-card game against Baltimore, missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Hamels was acquired in a July 2015 trade and has won division-clinching games in both of his seasons with Texas. Hamels has a 3.03 ERA in 15 career postseason games, including two last October for the Rangers. The All-Star lefty was the MVP of the 2008 World Series and NLCS for the Phillies.
— Unruly Fans. The noisy crowds in Canada are gaining a reputation for bad behavior. Toronto Police were looking for the fan who threw a beer can at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim in the wild-card game. During Game 5 of last year’s ALDS, Blue Jays fans littered the field with debris after a disputed call that let Odor score from third after Martin’s throw back to the mound deflected off Choo’s bat.
— Close Calls. Texas was 36-11 in one-run games, setting an MLB record with a .766 winning percentage. The Rangers also led the majors with 49 comeback wins. They won eight times when trailing after eight innings, plus had an MLB-best 21 wins in their last at-bat.
— RISP-Y Business. Toronto hit .249 with runners in scoring position, the worst mark among AL playoff teams. Over the final eight regular-season games, the Blue Jays were 13 for 66 (.197) with one double in those situations.