Blue Jays defeat Rangers, advance to ALCS against Royals
Toronto wins emotionally-charged deciding Game 5 over Texas
When it was all over, Jose Bautista stood on a table, grabbed a bottle of champagne and poured it over his head.
It was only fitting. The 34-year-old Blue Jays slugger, who has waited so long to see his team prosper in the post-season, had delivered a wild ending to an even wilder game. A stiff drink was warranted — and needed.
"Bautista, he's got the flair for the dramatic, you know," Toronto manager John Gibbons said fondly. "On the national stage, it really showed off."
Capping a deciding game filled with controversy, bad blood and just plain craziness, Bautista's three-run seventh-inning homer propelled the Jays into the American League Championship Series as baseball karma delivered Toronto an unforgettable 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays will begin the ALCS in Kansas City on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. as the Royals defeated the Houston Astros 7-2 in Game 5 of the other division series later Wednesday night.
Game 5 of the Blue Jays, Rangers series was filled with drama — and almost as much talk as play on the field before a riled-up sellout crowd of 49,742 under the Rogers Centre roof.
The game lasted an intense three hours 37 minutes and seemed longer.
When the dust settled, the Jays had rallied from a 2-0 hole to win three straight and advance to face either Kansas City or Houston, who met later Wednesday. It was Toronto's first home playoff win since Joe Carter's home run secured the 1993 World Series.
And baseball had a playoff game that will long be talked about, for the good and bad.
"It's very rewarding for this group," said Gibbons. "We thought we were too good to bow out in the first round. But they [the Rangers] were just as good over there.
"It's special really for everybody around here because it's been so long," he added. "You can have a great year and if you bow out in that first round, it's still a good accomplishment but it just doesn't seem right. So we're moving on and hopefully play well this next series."
The Jays rushed the mound to celebrate when it was over, followed by police to monitor the at-times unruly crowd. In the locker-room, there was yet another wild, wet party.
"I don't drink but I feel drunk," said pitcher R.A. Dickey.
Later, wearing their ALDS championship T-shirts, players came out to high-five fans and celebrate on the mound.
Tied 2-2, the contest was turned on its head in the top of the seventh.
With Rougned Odor on third and Shin Soo-Choo at the plate with two outs, Toronto catcher Russell Martin's return throw back to the mound hit Choo's bat in the box and flew off into the distance.
Odor raced home while the Jays players held their arms up in disbelief. Home plate umpire Dale Scott, who had called time, then awarded Odor the base — and the run — after a confab. As beer and garbage flew out of the stands, there was more talk and a review.
The ruling was the play stood — that Choo had not intentionally interfered so the ball was alive and in play. Martin was given a throwing error and the irate Jays, now trailing 3-2, filed a protest.