Texas 'pen blanks Jays, setting stage for win

Texas 'pen blanks Jays, setting stage for win

TORONTO -- Jake Diekman wanted the ball. Two multi-inning performances in less than 24 hours didn't matter to him. The Rangers' left-hander wanted to silence the boisterous sellout crowd at Rogers Centre again, and he did, in a 6-4 Rangers win against the Blue Jays on Friday in Game 2 of the best-of-five American League Division Series that gave Texas a 2-0 series lead.

"Just the energy," Diekman said. "Every game's the most important game of the year, and that just jacks you up a little bit, I think."

Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 TEX 5, TOR 3
Gm 2 Oct. 9 TEX 6, TOR 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 TOR 5, TEX 1
Gm 4 Oct. 12 TOR 8, TEX 4
Gm 5 Oct. 14 TOR 6, TEX 3

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Ross Ohlendorf wanted the ball, too. The veteran right-hander warmed up in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings without getting the call to go in. He just wanted another chance to protect a lead like he had last weekend against the Angels, a game that got away from him.

"I felt so good in that game," Ohlendorf said of his blown save, "and to not be able to pull off the win for us in the last inning was really disappointing."

Keone Kela had Jose Bautista's home run from Thursday night to push him as he stared down the heart of the Toronto batting order once more. Then he had Josh Donaldson in his face Friday afternoon after a long foul ball and words exchanged.

"Obviously emotions are running high in an extra-inning ballgame in the playoffs, so I just kind of chalk it up to that," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "I think [Kela] did a real good job after that."

Five different Rangers relievers had their own motivations Friday. They ended with the same general result. As a group, they helped lift the Rangers to a win after 14 innings, seven of which were covered by them.

Tempers flare at Rogers Centre

The Texas bullpen held the Jays scoreless on Friday on two hits, walking two, hitting one and striking out nine. Add in Thursday's work, and Rangers relievers have 11 innings of one-run ball on four hits.

"Phenomenal job by them," manager Jeff Banister said. "Can't say enough."

Heading into Saturday's workout day and a potential clinching Game 3, it's arguably the difference in the series. It's not a matter of surviving to set up a superstar reliever or a big-name closer. With the Rangers, it's a group effort.

"Whoever goes into the game, we feel like can keep the score the same, give us a chance," Diekman said. "That's basically the mentality in the bullpen. If you come out in the sixth, just try to keep the score the same."

Three relievers pitched in both games, but in a reverse order. Sam Dyson, who earned the save in Game 1, followed starter Cole Hamels Friday to face the top of the order in the eighth with the game tied. He had the go-ahead run in scoring position, but struck out Bautista, intentionally walked Edwin Encarnacion and retired Troy Tulowitzki.

Dyson strikes out Bautista

Diekman, who entered for the bottom third of the order in the seventh inning Thursday and retired all six batters he faced, did the same Friday, starting with sixth hitter Chris Colabello, and ending with right-handed-hitting AL MVP Award candidate Donaldson. Diekman became the fifth pitcher in postseason history to face six or more hitters in back-to-back games and retire them all.

"It's good," Diekman said. "It means I'm attacking the zone, so far making pretty good pitches."

The score remained tied entering the 11th, but with the middle of the Jays' order up, on came Shawn Tolleson, owner of 35 saves in the regular season. He retired Bautista, Encarnacion and Tulowitzki in order, then overcame a leadoff single in the 12th by retiring the bottom third in order.

The key was Kela, whose 13th-inning entrance took on higher tension with the confrontation with Donaldson. Gimenez knew they wanted to be careful with Bautista, but they had to retire the first two batters to give them that chance.

Fanning Donaldson allowed Kela to walk Bautista. It still nearly backfired with a big first-pitch swing from Encarnacion, but he flied out to the warning track.

Ohlendorf shuts the door

Once Rougned Odor pulled Texas ahead in the 14th, on came Ohlendorf in his first appearance since a ninth-inning meltdown against the Angels. The stuff was the same, he said, but the results were better -- a 97-mph fastball on the inside corner to Tulowitzki, then sliders to send down Justin Smoak and Kevin Pillar swinging.

"Everybody contributed," Ohlendorf said. "Our bullpen guys did such a good job., especially Diekman throwing two innings back-to-back days and just dominating. It was a great win for everybody. So many people got to contribute."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.