TORONTO – The boos and cries of “Let’s go Blue Jays” were so loud Thursday during Game 1 of the ALDS that it was impossible to hear the public address anouncer call out the Texas Rangers’ starting lineup.
It was fitting, really. Even with stars such as Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Cole Hamels, the Rangers’ roster paled in comparison to the star-studded Toronto Blue Jays, the popular pick to win the World Series. It almost didn’t matter who the Blue Jays were facing, so what difference did it make actually recognizing who was taking the field opposite them?
All the difference in the world, apparently. Texas scored five runs off David Price on its way to a momentous 5-3 road win and a surprising 1-0 series lead.
It was the Rangers’ unheralded players who did the bulk of the damage. Catcher Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run homer in the fifth to put Texas up 4-1. Jose Bautista homered for Toronto in the bottom of the sixth to make it 4-3, but then second baseman Rougned Odor smacked a solo shot in the top of the seventh to put the Rangers up by two once again.
“It means a lot to the team to come to Toronto and win that first game against a great pitcher,” Chirino said. “It’s big for us.”
Texas starter Yovanni Gallardo was perfect through three innings and left the game after five with his team leading 4-2. The Bautista home run off reliever Keone Kela was all the Blue Jays could muster in four innings against the bullpen, as Jake Diekman threw two shutout frames and Sam Dyson came in to record the save in the ninth.
The only sore spot for the Rangers on the night was losing Beltre to injury. Beltre left the game in the third holding his back and holding back tears. The news postgame is that Beltre suffered a back strain and that while it is not considered too serious, it’s unlikely he’ll be ready to go for Game 2.
With their own ace Hamels getting the start, though, the Rangers are feeling pretty good about their chances to take another one in Toronto.
“We’ve got a very confident group of guys. We’ve got a group of guys that they absolutely love playing together and they’ve been up against it all year,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. “We know that we’re a ball club that’s not a perfect ball club, but we’ve got a group of guys that play extremely well together.”
The fans in the stands might not have cared to know who made up this group of guys before the game. They might still not care. But now they have no choice but to know who they’re dealing with. The Rangers came into a hostile environment and by pulling off a Game 1 win, made sure of that.
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