Toronto Blue Jays hope to bounce back in playoff series with Texas
Young ace Marcus Stroman gets the start for the Jays in Game 2 of American League Division Series
The Toronto Blue Jays take to the field again today in a playoff game many fans now believe is a must win for the club.
Game 1, which began with the Jays celebrating their American League East title, didn't go as planned, with the team losing 5-3 to the Texas Rangers. Ace pitcher David Price took the loss and Jays fans watched in horror as stars Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista left the game with injuries – though both may be back in the lineup on Friday.
As fans streamed out of the stadium under darkening fall skies, the question facing them was clear: do you still believe in this team?
Most fans shared Russell's opinion, but after 22 years of missing the playoffs it's easy to see how Jays fans can feel rattled by the result. Losing Donaldson — who was injured after taking a knee to the head while sliding aggressively into second base to break up a potential double play — possibly shook the Jays' confidence as well, said Katelynn Russell.
"Their spirits were down already after they lost him … I felt it," she said.
The 49,834 fans who packed the Rogers Centre went quiet as they realized Donaldson had left the game. Many frantically scanned their phones for news about the third baseman, who could be the Most Valuable Player of the American League this season.
Katelynn Russell said plenty of fans in her section were trying to get the crowd back into the game.
"Some people were yelling 'is this a Leafs game or a Jays game?"
Bautista blast highlight of Game 1
A Jose Bautista home run — the first playoff home run for the Jays since Joe Carter's World Series walk-off — brought the crowd roaring back. But then, late in the contest, Bautista himself suffered a hamstring cramp and was pulled from the game.
"It got scary. It got very scary," said Justin Burke, one of three assistant coaches from the University of Toronto baseball team who was watching the game.
Still, the coaches feel the Jays will level up the best-of-five series on Friday when young and talented pitcher Marcus Stroman takes the mound.
"You gotta win tomorrow, though. You gotta win," Jake Gallo said.
A 7-year-old believer
Across from the Rogers Centre, Mike Sturino carried his 7-year-old son Thomas on his shoulders.
Sturino said the injuries certainly dampened the mood of the game, but his son — "he's a bigger Jays fan than I am" — never got down about the outcome.
And even though the Jays have never made the playoffs in his lifetime, Thomas is still certain they can win a World Series this year.
His father, however, added: "they also have to win tomorrow."
Game 2 of the American League Division Series is set to begin at 12:45 p.m. ET.