If you were tied up with the presidential debate on Sunday night, you can be forgiven for missing a tense, taut ALDS game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays that ended on a classic play that will live on in highlight reels for decades to come.
The Blue Jays — who clinched the American League wild card by defeating the Baltimore Orioles in the play-in game — hosted Sunday’s potential series clincher at the Rogers Centre. The rabid Toronto crowd was eager to see their team defeat the Rangers in the ALDS for the second year in a row, especially since Jose Bautista’s now-iconic bat flip helped spark an instant and intense rivalry against Texas.
The Blue Jays jumped out to a 5-2 lead by the third inning, but the Rangers chipped away little by little until they took a 6-5 lead in the top of the sixth. The Jays scored a tying run in the bottom of that inning and the two bullpens held things there and sent the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson led off with a double, and the Rangers intentionally walked Edwin Encarnacion to keep the force play in order. Bautista came to the plate to once again have a chance to vanquish the Rangers, but he struck out on a 3-2 pitch. A double play would keep the Rangers alive and send the game to the 11th.
Russell Martin came to the plate and the Rangers got exactly what they wanted: a hard grounder to short. Elvis Andrus fielded the ball cleanly and flipped to second baseman Rougned Odor, but Odor’s relay to first baseman Mitch Moreland, but the throw was off line and in the dirt. Moreland batted the ball down, but Martin was safe at first and Donaldson just kept going, tearing around third and heading home. Moreland came up with the throw home, but Donaldson’s hand was just able to slide across home plate ahead of the tag. The Blue Jays walked off in joyous celebration with a clean sweep of the team that finished with the best regular season record in the American League.
The Blue Jays will now sit back and wait to see who they’ll face in the American League Championship series. The Cleveland Indians currently hold a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series against the Boston Red Sox, and the potential clinching game that would have been held at Fenway Park on Sunday was postponed to Monday due to inclement weather.