Blue Jays' Chris Colabello a steadying presence in Game 2
When the Toronto Blue Jays were struggling with their defence in the opening inning Friday afternoon, first baseman Chris Colabello was the steady hand that helped keep the damage to a minimum.
The Texas Rangers put up two quick runs on starter Marcus Stroman before Colabello fielded a grounder for the first out and then completed a rare unassisted double play.
His heady defensive effort helped prevent a big inning and put a charge into the sellout crowd of 49,716 at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays would later regain the lead before dropping a 6-4, 14-inning decision in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
"There's some weird moments in a game," Colabello said. "You get weird bounces in baseball sometimes. Obviously you hope to not have them happen in a game like this. But obviously everybody is high-energy and emotional here.
"You want to do something to help the team and certainly (any mistakes aren't) from a lack of effort, that's for sure."
Texas caught some early breaks when Jose Bautista couldn't hang on to a drive from leadoff hitter Delino DeShields that took him to the wall in right field. Prince Fielder reached on a hard chopper that second baseman Ryan Goins couldn't corral. And catcher Russell Martin made a throwing error on a rundown play.
With some fans still settling into their seats, the Rangers suddenly had an early lead and were threatening to do more damage.
Elvis Andrus grounded out to Colabello for the first out as Fielder moved to third and Mitch Moreland took second base. Josh Hamilton then hit a hard shot that Colabello snared before tagging out the Texas slugger just before he got to the bag.
He then raced across the diamond to tag the slow-moving Fielder, who was caught in no-man's land between third base and home.
"As soon as I came up I looked to him right away and was able to freeze him," Colabello said. "I wanted to keep him in front of me so the whole time I was moving forward to try to tag Hamilton.
"But I think at that point in time the priority was to keep the runner from scoring. We were able to get two."
Colabello said he actually made a similar play at his first training camp with the Minnesota Twins' organization in 2012.
"It's why I guess I was a little more prepared for it," he said.
Colabello chipped in with the bat as well, hitting a ground-rule double in Toronto's two-run second inning. He was replaced by pinch-runner Dalton Pompey after leading off the 12th inning with a single.
The 31-year-old native of Framingham, Mass., was a pleasant surprise for the Blue Jays this season. He posted mediocre numbers over parts of two seasons with the Twins before being claimed on waivers by Toronto last December.
He took full advantage of his opportunity in Toronto by hitting .321 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs in 101 games while being plugged into a variety of defensive positions. Colabello, who didn't play in the series opener, finished 2-for-5 in Game 2 with one run scored.