TORONTO -- Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna left Tuesday's wild-card game in the 10th inning after feeling some discomfort during two pitches. With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 11th, he sat in the trainers' room, unable to help his team.
And then he looked at the TV monitor and saw Edwin Encarnacion swing and connect with a pitch that he instantly knew was going to be a home run. Osuna leapt to his feet and jumped around, despite the ice on his shoulder and the trainer telling him to stop. But how could he stop? The Blue Jays had just beaten the Baltimore Orioles 5-2, his teammates were rushing onto the field and the Toronto fans were exploding with joy as they had last October after Jose Bautista's seventh-inning home run beat Texas to win the Division Series.
"It was pretty similar to [Bautista's] home run last year, to be honest. The same type of game," Osuna said. “It was unbelievable."
It also was the Blue Jays' first postseason walk-off home run since Joe Carter won the 1993 World Series -- making it special, but, truth be told, not entirely unbelievable. Encarnacion, after all, hit 42 home runs this season and has averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs in the past five.
"You can't say enough about him. He's been the one guy throughout the whole year who's been in the lineup and healthy," center fielder Kevin Pillar said. "He's carried the team this whole year, and he doesn't get enough credit for what he does. This guy should be in the MVP conversation. He plays a hell of a first base and doesn't get enough recognition for that.
"What he's been able to do with everything he's got going on with his free agency, and being able to put that behind him and just go out there and play and drive in runs -- we've got one of the best hitters in the game, and we've all learned so much from him."
Encarnacion is eligible for free agency when the season ends, and that home run probably drove up the offers a few million dollars. At least.
"I thank God, to give me that opportunity," Encarnacion said of the home run. “It was a very special moment and a very special opportunity for me to get it. Thank God I did the job and it worked out for us."
While Bautista spoke with reporters in the champagne-filled clubhouse afterward, Bautista draped the flag of his native Dominican Republic over his head.
"The last eight years, playing alongside him, I've seen him develop into one of the best hitters in the game," Bautista said. "It's exciting for him to get that opportunity and be able to come through."
The Blue Jays' offense, meanwhile, has not come through recently. The Jays were held to three or fewer runs 15 times in the final four weeks of the season, including three shutouts when Tuesday's starter, Marcus Stroman, pitched. Even though Stroman had a 3.41 ERA in September, roughly a run below his season mark, the Blue Jays lost five of the six games he started.
That looked like another loss might be in the cards again as the Jays squandered several scoring chances Tuesday by hitting into three inning-ending double plays. The Jays have had to rely on home runs in recent weeks, and Encarnacion came through with his, off starter-turned-reliever Ubaldo Jimenez.
"The pitching staff has done a tremendous job all year long keeping us in ballgames, and the offense has been streaky," Bautista said. "So hopefully, we can get on a roll and score some runs."
Toronto also will hope Osuna is healthy. He said the trainer told him he would be good to go in the Division Series. Manager John Gibbons, however, said it was unclear just how quickly Osuna would be back.
"Gibby said I need a few days off, and I'm like, 'No chance,'" Osuna said. "I've got to be out there, and I want to help the team. So hopefully, I will be there."
Toronto plays the Texas Rangers in the Division Series, and the two teams have had a fairly tense rivalry since last postseason.
"We would have been excited about any opponent, but we have a little bit of history with them from the playoffs last year and this season, too," Bautista said. "Hopefully, we're going to win ballgames and put them away."
Encarnacion hopes for more than that.
"I want to go on to the World Series."