ALDS Game 2: Blue Jays homer their way to win over Rangers

Troy Tulowitzki’s two-run shot in the second inning was just the start of the Toronto Blue Jays’ home-run barrage as they beat the Texas Rangers 5-3 Friday afternoon at Globe Life Park to take a 2-0 series lead.

Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and Edwin Encarnacion also homered for the Blue Jays, all of the solo variety and all in the fifth inning, which was the final inning of the game for Rangers starter Yu Darvish.

It wasn’t J.A. Happ finest, or longest start, but he did enough to pick up his first career postseason win. The Blue Jays left-hander gave up nine hits – all singles – and one run over five innings and struck out five. Texas scored their second run on a Carlos Gomez RBI single in the eighth off Francisco Liriano and added another on a RBI groundout by Ian Desmond with Roberto Osuna on the mound.

Adrian Beltre led off the bottom of the ninth with a double but Osuna rebounded quickly to strike out Rougned Odor, get Jonathan Lucroy to pop up and Mitch Moreland to fly out to center field to earn the save.

In all, the Rangers outhit Toronto 13 to 6, but the Blue Jays’ hits were big flies and those are always guaranteed to bring home runs. Thanks to those homers, Toronto gets to head home with the opportunity to end the series with a win in Game 3.

Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki homered in Toronto's Game 2 win. (Getty Images)
Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki homered in Toronto’s Game 2 win. (Getty Images)

• Tulowitzki came up with a big hit again for the Blue Jays, after his three-RBI triple in Game 1. His production at the plate during his season and a half with Toronto hasn’t come close to matching what he consistently did while with the Rockies, but he has had a knack for coming up huge in clutch situations.

• Pillar and Carrera are not known as home-run hitters. They hit seven and six apiece in the regular season, but they were able muscle up against Darvish and make a one-run lead a three-run lead. For Pillar it was his first homer since June 16.

• A day after Cole Hamels was roughed up in Game 1, Darvish allowed four homers over five innings. The Rangers expected more from their dynamic duo at the top of their rotation and are now in real danger of being eliminated from the playoffs much earlier than expected.

• Lucroy was acquired before the trade deadline to put Texas over the top. He went 0-for-5 in Game 2, which followed an 0-for-3 day with two strikeouts in Game 1 with some shoddy catching behind the plate.

So far this postseason has been all about closers and when, or whether or not, they pitch. Osuna, Toronto’s closer, was called on by manager John Gibbons with one out and runners at the corners in the eighth to get a five-out save. One run came in on an RBI groundout to make it two outs but that still brought Carlos Beltran to the plate as the tying run. The battle between Osuna and Beltran went seven pitches, but it was the Blue Jays’ closer who ultimately came out on top, striking out Beltran on a nasty breaking ball to end the inning.

Is the Blue Jays’ offense back? Last season, especially late in the year, Toronto’s lineup was as deep and dynamic as we had seen in a long time. They weren’t able to replicate those heights in 2016, but their performances in the first two games of this series is reminding everyone what they can do when they’re at their best.

The Rangers know coming back from a 2-0 series deficit isn’t impossible, even in a best-of-five. These Blue Jays did it against them last year, and did so in dramatic fashion. The rest of history, however, is certainly against them as they go to Toronto needing to win both games on the road for the series to return to Texas for Game 5.

The Blue Jays send All-Star right-hander Aaron Sanchez to the mound as they go for the sweep in Game 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday in Toronto. Colby Lewis will start for the Rangers and try to deliver what Hamels and Darvish couldn’t – a win – otherwise Texas’ season might be over and the Jays will be moving on to the ALCS.

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Israel Fehr is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter.