Thursday’s MLB playoff results: Marcus Estrada, Blue Jays romp in American League Division Series opener
ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Bautista hit another long, punctuating home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs against the Texas Rangers.
Only this time, Bautista simply dropped the bat softly near home plate and rounded the bases after a 425-foot, three-run blast in the ninth inning of the Blue Jays’ 10-1 romp Thursday in their AL Division Series opener.
“I have a couple of home runs in my career and I think I’ve only flipped it once,” Bautista said. “Just kind of been blown out of proportion because of the moment last year.”
“So I don’t think there was anything too special about laying it down the way I did, because that’s the way that 99.9-plus percent of the time I do it,” he said.
Bautista had that emphatic bat flip after his tiebreaking homer in the ALDS Game 5 clincher last October against the Rangers. The two-time major league homer champion got punched the last time the Blue Jays played in Texas in May.
Bautista drove in four runs this time, including an RBI single in Toronto’s five-run third off All-Star lefty Cole Hamels.
Marco Estrada took a shutout into the ninth inning. The All-Star right-hander with an impressive changeup, who won Game 3 in last year’s ALDS after Toronto lost the first two at home, struck out six without a walk.
“He’s mastered his craft,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s a very calm guy. … He doesn’t get down on himself. As well as he’s pitched in two years here, really no need.”
Estrada has never pitched a complete game in the majors and the Blue Jays didn’t throw one this season. No matter, Estrada gave them all they needed to start this best-of-five series.
“Who cares? We won,” Estrada said.
Game 2 is today at Texas. J.A. Happ starts for the Blue Jays against Yu Darvish.
The last of the Rangers’ four hits off Estrada was Elvis Andrus’ leadoff triple in the ninth. Gibbons removed the right-hander after Shin-Soo Choo’s RBI grounder ended the shutout bid.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a bases-loaded triple for the Blue Jays. Toronto has won four straight overall, including an 11-inning, 5-2 victory over Baltimore in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night that included a home run by Bautista.
Bautista was booed heartily during pregame introductions and while he batted in the first inning. There also were chants of “Rougie! Rougie!” — those were for Rougned Odor, the second baseman who punched Bautista and ignited a bench-clearing brawl in their last meeting May 15. Odor was suspended seven games.
By time Bautista led off the seventh with a walk, the ballpark was quiet with the Rangers down 7-0. After he homered, a fan threw the ball almost back to the infield.
Hamels, the MVP of the 2008 World Series and NLCS for Philadelphia, threw 42 of his 82 pitches in the third. He allowed seven runs (six earned) with three walks in 3 1/3 innings.
“When you give up the amount of runs that I did early in the game, it can kind of deflate anything and everything of what home-field advantage really is,” Hamels said.
Indians 5, Red Sox 4
CLEVELAND — Francisco Lindor’s homer capped Cleveland’s three-homer rampage in the third inning against 22-game winner Rick Porcello, and the Indians held on for a win over the Boston Red Sox in their AL Division Series opener.
Lindor, Jason Kipnis and Robert Perez went deep in the third off Porcello, who lasted 4 1/3 innings in his shortest outing this year.
Before a sea of red-towel waving, screaming fans, the Indians landed the first blow in the best-of-5 series against David Ortiz and the AL East champions.
Andrew Miller, acquired by Cleveland in a July trade for an October night like this, pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Summoned by manager Terry Francona earlier than usual, the lefty struck out Ortiz with two on to end the fifth and threw a season-high 40 pitches.
Bryan Shaw gave up a leadoff homer to Boston’s Brock Holt in the eighth that made it 5-4 before Cody Allen struck out Xander Bogaerts with the potential tying run at third to end the inning. Boston put a runner on with two outs in the ninth but Allen fanned Dustin Pedroia on a full-count checked-swing, his 40th pitch, for the save. Pedroia was livid, and Red Sox manager John Farrell went onto the field to question plate umpire Brian Knight.
Ortiz went 1 for 4 with a double in the first game of his final postseason.