Toronto Blue Jays vs Texas Rangers: ALDS Game 3 preview
The Blue Jays are in the enviable position of having a 2-0 series lead, hosting the next two games (if necessary) in Toronto at the Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays and Rangers will square off for Game 3 of their ALDS matchup on Sunday with the game getting underway at 7:38 p.m. ET. The Jays are sending 24-year-old righty Aaron Sanchez to the mound against Rangers’ veteran Colby Lewis.
Toronto did some heavy lifting in Texas and are coming home up 2-0 in this short five-game ALDS matchup. One more win would secure the Blue Jays’ place in the ALCS, and they’ll have the home field advantage in Game 3 and 4 in order to try and finish off the Rangers.
Aaron Sanchez is set to make his first career playoff start and threw exceptionally well in his last outing, the Blue Jays’ final regular season game. Against the Red Sox, Sanchez threw seven innings and allowed just two hits and two walks for one earned run. The Blue Jays only managed two runs that day, but on the strength of the Sanchez start, it was enough to win the pivotal game. The win gave the Blue Jays home field advantage in the AL Wild Card against the Orioles, and it’s possible that playing that game in Baltimore could have led to a different outcome.
Sanchez was the subject of debate for the Blue Jays all season, ultimately staying in the rotation rather than moving to the bullpen as had been the plan earlier in the year. After his strong finish to the season and crucial outing against the Red Sox, the Blue Jays have to feel good about their decision, and their chances with him on the mound on Sunday. He finished the year with a record of 15-2, and an A.L.-leading 3.00 ERA.
Colby Lewis also was having a great season in 2016 before injuries derailed arguably his best campaign as a professional. The veteran finished the year with a 6-5 record and a 3.71 ERA in 19 starts, but those numbers don’t reflect how effective he was, especially in the first half of the season.
After Lewis’ start on June 21st, he didn’t return to game action again until Sept 11th, making 4 starts before the regular season came to a close. He threw fairly well in three of the four outings, but was knocked around by the Oakland A’s on September 25th for seven earned runs over just 1.1 innings pitched.
Lewis has playoff experience, making eight starts and nine appearances in 2010, 2011, and 2015. He has a record of 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA, throwing especially well in the 2010-11 playoff campaigns prior to his injury troubles.
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The Rangers will hope to find their offensive groove and stave off elimination in the do-or-die game for them in Toronto. They won the first two games of the 2015 ALDS against the Blue Jays before being eliminated after losing the final three games of the series. They will look to return the favour against the 2016 version of the Jays, and start the journey in Game 3.
It appears the Blue Jays will be without second baseman Devon Travis as he’s listed as doubtful for Game 3 with an ailing knee. Francisco Liriano will also be unavailable after being struck in the head by a Carlos Gomez liner in Game 2. Liriano was released from hospital and cleared to fly home with his teammates after that game, but has been replaced on the ALDS roster by reliever Danny Barnes.