AL wild card: Blue Jays beat Orioles on Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off homer

Big League Stew

The Toronto Blue Jays live to fight another day in the MLB postseason and, like we’ve seen from them in the past, they won in dramatic fashion on their home field. The Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in the AL wild-card game Tuesday in extra innings, a walk-off win that came when Edwin Encarnacion hit a no-doubt, three-run homer to left field in the 11th inning.

What many thought would be a slugfest between two of baseball’s most potent lineups actually turned into a bullpen fight, with the Jays beating out the Baltimore bullpen, which had been one of the best in baseball in the regular season. The Orioles curiously never turned to their closer Zach Britton, who hadn’t allowed a run since April 30, instead letting Ubaldo Jimenez face Encarnacion with two on in the 11th, when even a sac fly would have won the game.

The Jays will now face the Texas Rangers, with whom there’s no lost love, in the next round of the postseason. Get ready to see the highlight of the Rougned Odor-Jose Bautista fight on loop this week.

The Blue Jays are headed to the ALDS after Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off homer. (Getty Images)
The Blue Jays are headed to the ALDS after Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off homer. (Getty Images)

• The list has to start with Encarnacion, right? He only had one hit in the game, but it was the most important hit. And it might the crowning moment in Toronto for the free-agent-to-be.

• The Jays bullpen, which took over after six strong innings from starter Marcus Stroman. Manager John Gibbons used five relievers and they didn’t allow a single hit. Francisco Liriano was particularly effective, coming in after Roberto Osuna hurt himself in the 10th inning. He pitched 1.2 innings to get the win.

• Kevin Pillar was effective on the field and at the plate for the Blue Jays. He made the game’s best defensive play in the fourth inning, when he robbed Manny Machado of extra bases with a diving catch in right-center field. Then, in the fifth inning, Pillar’s double down the right-field line help set up  a single by Ezequiel Carrera that tied the game 2-2.

• Mark Trumbo, MLB’s regular-season homer king, tied the game for the Orioles in the fourth with a two-run homer that flew over the left-field wall. It was his 48th homer of the year, all told.

It’s mostly the play that didn’t happen: Orioles manager Buck Showalter stayed with Jimenez in the 11th inning instead of calling on Britton to try to clean up the mess on the bases. Jimenez had given up two straight singles to Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson. With one out, it seemed like a good time to bring in Britton, whose strength is getting ground balls. A double play would have ended the threat. Instead, Jimenez stayed in and the Orioles are going home.

An ugly incident in the bottom of the seventh inning where a Blue Jays fan threw a beer at Orioles left fielder Hyun-soo Kim as he lined up to catch a fly ball. Kim caught the ball anyway,  but the Orioles were no less upset about it. Even though it didn’t have a tangible effect on the outcome of the game, it’s something that Jays fans won’t be able to live down for the foreseeable future.

Jose Bautista’s second-inning homer got the Blue Jays on the board. Let it never be said he’s not good in the postseason. He’s Ruthian even!

The Blue Jays added another to the win column here, once again proving the importance of home-field advantage in the postseason.

The Blue Jays will now head to Arlington to play the Rangers in the ALDS. Game 1 is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Thursday. The Jays won the season series with the Rangers 4-3, but the Rangers might have scored the KO when Rougned Odor famously punched Jose Bautista in the face.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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