So here we go again. Texas and Toronto face off in a rematch of last year’s ALDS. All eyes will be on both teams behavior as the two have become throwback bad blood rivals.
What started by an innocent bat flip in last year’s playoffs has made this year’s match up must see TV. There is still hard feelings that exist between the two.
In May, Bautista slid hard into second base starting what might have been the cleanest punch delivered in a sporting event since Kermit Washington decked Rudy Tomjanovich. In the confrontation, Bautista shoved Odor to the chest and was promptly met with a punch so clean, you would have thought it was delivered by Marvin Hagler. Bautista’s glasses shooting off his face made the incident even more memorable.
Toronto won the season series 4-3 but Texas has home field advantage in the series.
Today’s pitching match-up is a juicy one. Toronto will have Marco Estrada on the mound. Estrada has followed up a strong 2015 with a respectable 2016. His 9-9 record doesn’t tell all of the story. Estrada led the league in fewest hits per 9 innings, had a 3.48 ERA and opponents only hit .203 against him.
He faced Texas twice this season with both games taking place in May. In the first meeting, Estrada was in complete control throwing six innings of 2 hit, 1 run baseball as the Blue Jays won 3-1. The second time around wasn’t so successful. The Rangers scored 5 runs (4 earned) in 6 innings on their way to a 6-5 win.
Texas will counter with veteran, Cole Hamels. Hamels is coming off an impressive 15-5, 3.32 ERA season. This is will be his 16th playoff start. He did appear to slow down in the month of September as his ERA was 5.86 for the month. In two of his September starts, he gave up 6+ earned runs and in another start he gave up 5 runs (only 3 earned).
Both teams were proficient when hitting the long ball. Toronto was 4th in the league in home runs with 221 while Texas was 7th with 215. The Blue Jays are here in part because of the home run ball. In their wild card game against Baltimore, four of the five runs were scored off of homers. Toronto had six players hit over 20 home runs, Texas had 5.