As Yogi Berra once said, it’s ‘deja vu all over again’ for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Edwin Encarnacion made sure the Blue Jays season didn’t end in early October, lifting Toronto into the A.L.D.S. and himself into team lore with a mammoth 3-run homerun in the 11th inning to lead the Blue Jays past the Baltimore Orioles 5-2.
Bautista’s homerun was the first walkoff victory the Blue Jays have had since Joe Carter’s three-run walk-off homer off Phillies closer Mitch Williams to win the 1993 World Series. It also comes nearly a year after Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer in game five of the A.L.D.S. against Texas that spawned his now infamous bat-flip.
The homerun was especially sweet for Blue Jays fans, Encarnacion and Bautista are both free agents at the end of the season and it’s not a guarantee either will be back with the team next season.
Unlike Bautista last year, Encarnacion dropped the bat the second he hit the ball, raising his arms in triumph. After running the bases, Encarnacion was greeted by a mass of teammates at home plate.
“It was just a very special moment for us, and it was just nice to see the ball leave the ballpark,” Encarnacion said though an interpreter.
The 33-year-old added to his free agent price-tag with the homer, which was celebrated in the locker room by teammates including Bautista.
“It keeps it simple, you know, he has a great swing and he understands that and knows what to look for in certain pitchers so I think he stayed calm, he looked for a pinch hit and he got it,” said Bautista.
Toronto starter Marcus Stroman also praised Encarnacion after the game.
“Hard to put into words,” said Stroman. “Chills, excitement, I kind of blacked out for a second. Unbelievable. Eddie has been clutch for us all year.”
Toronto now takes on Texas, the top seed in the American League, on Thursday to begin the five-game AL Division Series in Arlington.
It will serve as a rematch of last year’s series, which included the Bautista bat flip. It’s bound to be tense at times between the two teams following a brawl in May that began when Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor punched Bautista in the face after objecting to a slide.
The punch lead to a bench-clearing melee at Globe Life Park in Arlington. As punishment, Odor was suspended for eight games while Bautista got a one-game ban.
A total of 14 players and staff members were disciplined.
Tuesday was the 20th time the Baltimore and Toronto faced off this season with the Jays holding 10-9 edge coming into the game. Both clubs ended with the same 89-73 record in the regular season.
(picture courtesy mlb.com)