ROGERS CENTRE [PeterPaul.ca] — Jose Bautista is considered one of the best players to dawn a Toronto Blue Jays uniform and on Wednesday, he hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history while clinching the AL Division Series and defeating the Texas Rangers 6-3 in front of a packed stadium.
Bautista’s 7th inning shot against Rangers reliever Sam Dyson capped off a historic 53-minute inning after a strange play that would define the series. He finished the game with two hits and four RBIs.
In the bottom of the inning, Rangers infielder Rougned Odor was on third base with two outs when Shin-Soo Choo took a fastball for ball two. Catcher Russell Martin tried to throw the ball back to reliever Aaron Sanchez but it made contact with Choo’s hand, who was holding the bat just above the plate. The ball ricocheted toward third base and Odor, who was down the line towards home, scored the go ahead run. Martin was credited with a throwing error.
Umpire Dale Scott revealed afterwards that he was wrong. “That was my mistake. I was mixing up two rules and I called time, but then it started clicking,” he said after the game. “I went wait a minute, wait a minute, there’s no intent on the hitter. He’s in the box, the bat’s in the box.”
Scott clarified that he was conducting a rule check during the review and not where Choo was positioned. “You can’t review that. I was reviewing the rule because he was protesting. In my judgment, he was not intentionally trying to hit the throw back from the catcher and he was not out of the box, nor was his bat out of the box.”
“So there you have it, that ball’s live.”
Manager John Gibbons said in a post-game news conference that he just wanted to clarify the rules with so much on the line in such a big game. “You know, I’m still not certain what happened, what was going on what the ruling is. You saw Russell throwing the ball back, his hand sticking out. I don’t know if anybody saw that, but we saw it on video,” he said.
“Really it came down to the rules are what they are and I’m still a bit in the fog about that. But you didn’t want something like that to be the deciding run in a game of this magnitude, so that was kind of my beef.” Read the official text of the rule via the Associated Press.
Despite several fans throwing beer onto the field during the game, the overall mood outside the centre was electric with a sea of blue disappearing into the night. There was a heavy police presence and Toronto’s finest later tweeted a thanks to the city for celebrating safely with nothing major to report.
The Blue Jays became just the sixth team in Major League Baseball history to comeback from a 2-0 deficit after losing their first two games, most recently the San Francisco Giants achieved the feat in 2012 and later moved onto the World Series.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm billed Wednesday’s matinee match-up as one of the most memorable in MLB history with all its twists and turns. In all, it lasted three hours and thirty-seven minutes with announced attendance of 49,742 fans.