Good morning! The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in 11 innings in the A.L. Wild Card game. Here are the plays everybody will be talking about on Wednesday:
Kevin Pillar saved yet another run. At the time, it seemed like just another catch by Pillar in center field for the Blue Jays, but it turned out to be much bigger than that. With the Blue Jays up 1-0 in the fourth inning, the Orioles had a runner on second base and Manny Machado at the plate. He hit a fly ball to right-center field that looked like it would drop for a game-tying double. Instead, Pillar made the diving catch. It was a play made even bigger by the fact that the next batter, Mark Trumbo, hit a home run. Instead of the Orioles being up 3-1, it was just 2-1.
Buck Showalter didn’t bring in his best pitcher with the game on the line. Orioles closer Zach Britton had a 0.54 ERA and had not allowed a run since April. And yet Showalter did not use Britton in the Wild Card game, seemingly because a save situation never presented itself. Instead, with the game tied in the 11th inning, Showalter turned to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. After he gave up two straight hits, Showalter visited the mound. But instead of bringing in Britton, Showalter stayed with Jimenez to face Edwin Encarnacion.
Edwin Encarnacion wins it with a 3-run walk-off home run. Even without bringing in Britton, Showalter still had the option to intentionally walk Encarnacion with the empty base. In a tie game in the 11th inning, another runner on base doesn’t mean much. In fact, it creates yet another force-out option at third base. Of course, that would mean facing Jose Bautista who has a flare for such moments and had already homered earlier in the game. Well, it didn’t matter, because Encarnacion ended it with his own big moment. Game over. The Orioles are going home and the Blue Jays are going to Texas to renew their heated rivalry.
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