ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was a bad day for the state of Texas but a great day for Canada. Although Canadian fans might be scratching their heads about manager John Gibbons' bullpen move.
After Houston blew a big lead in the eighth inning on Monday afternoon in its series with Kansas City, the Toronto Blue Jays held onto their lead, beating the Texas Rangers 8-4 in Game 4 to force a deciding fifth game back in Toronto in their American League Division Series. The powerful Toronto offense was back on track quickly in Texas after struggling in the first two games. Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer with none out in the first inning and the Jays went on to take a commanding 7-0 lead in the third inning.
That should have been plenty for R.A. Dickey, who was starting his first postseason game against the team with whom he began his career. Nonetheless, Gibbons removed Dickey with two out, one on and a 7-1 lead in the fifth inning to bring in David Price for his first relief appearance in five years. Price wound up allowing three runs and throwing 50 pitches in three innings, which pretty much eliminates him from pitching in the decisive fifth game.
Still, the Blue Jays won to give themselves a chance to join the 2001 Yankees and the 2012 Giants as the only teams to lose the first two games of a best-of-five series at home yet come back to win the series. They are the fifth team to even force a fifth game under such situations.
Thumbs up: Pretty much the whole team, but Kevin Pillar had an especially big day at the plate (home run, two singles, three RBIs) while Dickey held the Rangers to one run in 4 2/3 innings.
Thumbs down: Gibbons yanked Dickey in the fifth inning just one out away from the 40-year-old knuckleballer qualifying for the win. Dickey wasn't his absolute sharpest but he was doing well enough. Price had a rougher outing -- three runs and six hits in three innings. Do you really need to burn the league ERA leader's availability for the final game when you lead by six runs?
What's next: The series returns to Toronto where Marcus Stroman is the likely Game 5 starter. Stroman gave up four runs (three earned) in seven-plus innings in Game 2 but was strong after his first two innings.