The ALDS between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers enters game 2, following the surprising demolition in the series opener. J.A. Happ and Yu Darvish take the mound, in what might shift the balance of this encounter.
The Blue Jays lead the series 1-0 after a 10-1 win in game 1, stunning the fans and the Rangers players in Arlington. Melvin Upton Jr. and Jose Bautista hit home runs, Marco Estrada was fantastic, and it remains to be seen if the Blue Jays overall have the Rangers figured out, or was it just an ace-like performance by Estrada, compared to a disastrous mound-appearance by Cole Hamels, making all the difference.
Previous game: The Marco Estrada show, which lucky for the Rangers, won’t pitch until game 4. Estrada was two outs away from a complete game, giving up 4 hits while striking out 6. However, the moment the Rangers did score a run, Ryan Tepera came on to close. Cole Hamels wasn’t the only Texas player who got rocked, but overall, besides Elvis Andrus with a couple of hits, there was nothing positive to mention about such a deep and fearsome lineup. Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy both struck out twice, and the Rangers actually managed to put a runner in scoring position once during the entire game.
Pitching: J.A. Happ will be on the mound for the Blue Jays. He’s coming off what could be considered his best season in his decade-long stay in the majors, with a 3.18 ERA through 195 innings, with a WHIP of 1.169. He’s striking out less players than before, but his 4.4 WAR suggests this was a fantastic season. He faced the Rangers once this season, doing a great job, allowing one run in 7 innings while striking out 5. He’s had trouble facing Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy in the past.
For the Rangers, it’s Yu Darvish’s turn to try and turn things around. The three-time All-Star started in 17 games this season, but considering he missed all of 2015, the Rangers had to be pleased with what they saw from him most of the time. He had a 3.41 ERA through 100 innings, improving his k-to-bb ratio, raising it to 4.26, striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Darvish hasn’t had trouble with any of the Blue Jays batters, except for Edwin Encarnacion, hitting .313 against him with 2 home runs in 16 at-bats.
Hot bats: Basically no one for the Rangers. They managed only 4 hits in game 1, and the only RBI coming in a ground out. Elvis Andrus did have a couple of hits, and looked like the only one not phased by Marco Estrada’s pitching. For the Blue Jays, six players got hits, four players had multiple hits, and none were better than Josh Donaldson, with 4-for-4, picking up two RBIs, scoring two runs and also walking once. Jose Bautista had 4 RBIs.