ARLINGTON, Texas -- Manager Jeff Banister has made it pretty clear that the worst thing the Texas Rangers can do against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS is walk batters. Do that against the AL’s most powerful lineup, he said, and disaster looms, which is exactly what happened Sunday night at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers walked five batters and two of them scored in a 5-1 loss to Toronto. Troy Tulowitzki walked once with the bases loaded and ripped a three-run homer to left in the sixth inning to break open a close game.
Thumbs up: The Rangers' defense turned double plays in four consecutive innings to keep Toronto from blowing the game open early. In the fifth inning, second baseman Rougned Odor made a terrific play, when he made an ankle-high catch of a broken-bat liner and threw to third to complete a double play.
Thumbs down: Chi Chi Gonzalez is the rare starting pitcher who doesn’t have a “put-away” pitch, and it cost him against the Blue Jays. Gonzalez, normally a starter, entered the game in relief with runners on first and third and none out in the sixth inning. He had an 0-2 count on Edwin Encarnacion, who fouled off four pitches and eventually worked a walk to load the bases. After Chris Colabello hit into a home-to-first double play, Gonzalez faced Tulowitzki, who did not have a hit in the series. He fell behind 0-1, then worked the count to 3-2 before ripping a slider over the left-field wall for a 5-0 lead.
What’s next? Enigmatic Derek Holland gets an opportunity to end the series. He’s 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA with 17 walks and 41 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. He pitched one inning in the home opener and missed the next four months with a strained shoulder. Since his return, Holland has been either outstanding or ineffective. He allowed three homers in his only start against Toronto and gave up 11 homers in 10 starts. Keeping the ball in the ballpark is the best way to give the Rangers an opportunity to win.