Edwin Encarnacion’s late blast sends Blue Jays past Orioles, into ALDS
TORONTO — Edwin Encarnacion advanced Toronto to the AL Division Series in the Blue Jays’ familiar manner — with a big home run.
Encarnacion hit a three-run drive in the 11th inning off Ubaldo Jimenez, and Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in Tuesday night’s AL wild card game to advance to a Division Series matchup against old foe Texas.
“It was a very special moment and a very special opportunity,” Encarnacion said through a translator.
Jose Bautista also homered for the Blue Jays , who open the Division Series on Tuesday at Texas. Encarnacion’s homer brought back memories of the tiebreaking, three-run shot that Bautista hit in the seventh inning of Game 5 of last year’s AL Division Series win over the Rangers, a shot punctuated by a memorable bat flip.
And the Blue Jays won their last World Series title in 1993 on Joe Carter’s walkoff home run .
“I was looking for a fastball and I was trying to put the barrel on it, get a little bit in front because the infield was playing in, and I actually got it,” Encarnacion said through a translator.
Jimenez relieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th, and Devon Travis singled in a 1-1 pitch. Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson singled on the next pitch, and Travis went all the way to third as left fielder Nolan Reimold bobbled the ball.
Encarnacion sent the following pitch, a 91 mph offering, soaring into the second deck in left. Encarnacion immediately knew it was gone and raised both arms in triumph, index fingers pointed skyward.
The crowd of 49,934 chanted “Eddie, Eddie!” as Encarnacion circled the bases before being greeted by a mob of teammates. Encarnacion matched his career-best with 42 home runs in the regular season.