It was mission accomplished for the Toronto Blue Jays in Texas, where they opened the American League Division series with a pair of wins.
Games one and two couldn’t have been more different, though, swinging from a blowout 10-1 win on Thursday to a 5-3 nail-biter Friday afternoon. On Sunday, the Blue Jays welcome the Rangers to the Rogers Centre for a 7:30 p.m. ET start in search of the sweep with Aaron Sanchez on the mound. If necessary, game four in Toronto will be played Monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Until then, some off day news and notes:
Update on Francisco Liriano
Liriano took a hard line drive to the back of the head/neck in Friday’s game and was forced to leave. Despite walking off under his own power, Liriano was taken to a local hospital via ambulance following the game. Thankfully, Liriano was soon released and travelled back to Toronto with his teammates. Further updates will be provided on his availability prior to game three.
More on Marco Estrada
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Estrada gave the Blue Jays one of the greatest single-game performances in team playoff history on Thursday, and as Shi Davidi wrote for Sportsnet, it wasn’t all due to his signature combination of a fastball and changeup. Estrada was also keeping hitters off balance with his curveball.
“They’re beating themselves up trying to hit the changeup or the fastball,” Russell Martin told Davidi, “they’re not even thinking about the curveball, and he’s got a good one. He has a cutter, too, that he threw a couple times today. He can throw any pitch in any count and that’s what makes him so tough.”
The unusual home run from Kevin Pillar
Kevin Pillar is more fielder than hitter, and that’s just fine — he plays that role as well as nearly anyone in baseball. His raw physical tools and hand speed still make for the odd ‘wow’ moment at the dish, however, and that’s rarely been more true than his home run against Yu Darvish in game two on Friday. Jeff Sullivan broke down the oddity here for FanGraphs.
“It’s probably no mystery why Pillar is the owner of a career 85 wRC+,” Sullivan writes. “But on the other hand, maybe that is a mystery, because if Pillar can go yard against a pitch like this, what’s to stop him from going yard against almost literally anything?”
Latest on Devon Travis
Second-baseman Devon Travis was unexpectedly scratched from his start prior to game two with a sore right knee. This is a new injury for Travis, whose prior issues this season were with his shoulder. Travis isn’t quite sure how the injury occurred, but Ben Nicholson-Smith writes that the Blue Jays will take a day-by-day approach. He’ll be getting an MRI.
“They gave him a shot. That didn’t do the trick,” said John Gibbons after game two. “So we’re just going to have to go day-by-day, see how he is tomorrow … I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I think it’s important to get a look at it.”
Adele dons the blue and white
On Thursday night in Toronto, Adele graced the stage of the Air Canada Centre wearing a Blue Jays jersey to perform her song “Rolling in the Deep”. Josh Donaldson, who’s been known to feature some Adele in his workout playlists, was sad to miss this important moment.