ARLINGTON, Texas — The Toronto Blue Jays had just six hits in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Texas on Friday but made sure they counted.
Toronto clubbed four homers off Texas starter Yu Darvish and then held on for a 5-3 victory despite 13 hits from the Rangers.
The Blue Jays lead the series 2-0 and can clinch a spot in the American League Championship Series with a win in Game 3 on Sunday in Toronto.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki set the tone for the Jays when he cranked a two-run homer to left in the second to put Toronto up 2-0. Texas cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth on Ian Desmond’s RBI single off J.A. Happ, but Toronto more than had the answer in the top of the fifth.
Center fielder Kevin Pillar opened the inning with a solo homer to left. One batter later, Ezequiel Carrera homered off Darvish. Edwin Encarnacion ended the barrage with another solo homer to left to make it 5-1.
“Home runs are always a good thing,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “What did we hit, four today? You know Tulo had another big game. He had a big game yesterday. It wasn’t easy. We weren’t getting many hits, but if you can make some home runs that makes a huge, huge difference.”
The four homers allowed by Darvish were a career high and matched a Major League Baseball postseason high. He was charged with five runs on five hits in his five innings of work.
“In baseball these kinds of things happen,” Darvish said. “In my mind, my focus was to get the next guy out and keep battling. I was struggling with the strike zone. I was getting behind the count. When I put it over the plate, they didn’t miss it.”
Toronto knew it had to capitalize on Darvish mistakes.
“We all know how talented he is,” said Tulowitzki, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI. “He’s got good stuff. You see all those strikeouts. He got behind 2-0 (in the second), threw a fastball, put a nice swing on it. It was nice to get on top of him early especially on the road.”
Happ scattered nine hits over five innings, but limited the Rangers to just one run. He struck out five and walked just one.
Texas had several chances to get back into the game, scoring twice in the eighth to close the gap to two. Carlos Gomez lined a single that glanced off the neck of Toronto pitcher Francisco Liriano to drive in a run. Liriano was forced to leave the game and Gibbons said he was transported to a hospital for further tests.
The Blue Jays brought in closer Roberto Osuna with one out and runners on first and third. After giving up an RBI grounder to Desmond, Osuna struck out Carlos Beltran.
Osuna, the fifth Toronto reliever, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to save the game.
Tulowitzki had two of the six Toronto hits. Desmond had three of the 13 Texas hits and two RBI. Ryan Rua also went 2-for-3, but the Rangers were just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” said Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre, who went 1-for-4. “Almost every inning we had somebody on base, guys in scoring position. We couldn’t find a way to get a hit. We got a couple of hits, not enough. That’s what we want. We want those situations, but we want to make sure we get those opportunities. We didn’t do a very good job.”
NOTES: The nine-run loss in Game 1 matched the largest in Texas postseason history, with the other coming in a 9-0 defeat to San Francisco in Game 2 of the 2010 World Series. … Texas will start RHP Colby Lewis in Game 3 Sunday against the Blue Jays. … The nine-run win for the Blue Jays in Game 1 was the largest margin of victory in Toronto postseason history. … The Game 1 outing by Texas LHP Alex Claudio in which he pitched 3 2/3 innings, was just the sixth scoreless relief outing in postseason history of at least 3 2/3 innings without a strikeout. The last time it happened was in 1990 by Oakland’s Gene Nelson. … Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada now has the lowest postseason ERA by any Toronto starter with a minimum of 20 innings pitched. Estrada’s ERA is 1.95, which is nearly a half of a run better than Juan Guzman (2.44).