The American League Wild Card game pitted two AL East teams against each other: Toronto and Baltimore, with the Blue Jays hosting the win or go home game. It took extra innings, but Toronto came out victorious and is headed to Texas to begin the AL Division Series on Thursday.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a walk off, three-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning against Ubaldo Jimenez, who did not record an out. The O’s did not use All-Star closer Zach Britton AT ALL, despite not allowing a run since April.
The Blue Jays started Marcus Stroman, who I have a soft spot for from his Duke days (I covered him when AerysSports was still around) and seeing him pitch in the minors, and the O’s started Chris Tillman, who I watched come up through the O’s farm system.
Stroman allowed two runs on a Mark Trumbo homer in the fourth. Overall, he allowed just four hits over six innings (two of the Orioles hits came in the fourth, the first base runners against him). Stroman struck out six and did not walk a batter. Tillman was pulled in the 5th inning with two on, one out, and a run in. In came Mychal Givens, who I saw in the minors as both an infielder and a pitcher, and he got a double play to end the inning on one pitch.
I know, I know, what does this have to do with the KC Royals? Well, former Royals are dotted throughout this postseason and one plays a big part in Toronto.
That would be right fielder Jose Bautista, or “Joey Bats” as he is known on Twitter. Bautista was a nobody back when he was a Royal in 2004. Since then, he has been an All-Star and loved/hated throughout baseball.
Bautista did what he is paid to do: hit a home run to give the Blue Jays the early 1-0 lead in the second.
Baltimore also has one former Royal on their roster and that would be lefty Brian Duensing. He never pitched a big league game with the Royals, though he did pitch in 12 games with Triple-A Omaha before being let go in May. About a week later, Duensing signed with the Orioles and was sent to Triple-A Norfolk before being called up in June. He went on the DL and went on a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie and in the GCL, before being called back up in September.
Duensing entered the Wild Card game in relief to start the bottom of the 11th inning with the game tied at 2-2. He got Zeke Carrera, who drove in the tying run, to strike out looking. That was all for Duensing and in came Ubaldo, and the game was over five pitches later.
The Orioles left third catcher Francisco Pena off the Wild Card roster. Pena was traded to the Orioles this offseason and called up to the big leagues in June and August.