Blue Jays' potent bats key to Game 3 rebound

Club led Majors in runs scored, but has struggled in ALDS vs. Texas

Blue Jays' potent bats key to Game 3 rebound

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays have their backs against the wall in the American League Division Series, and the only way to escape the sticky situation is by hitting their way out of it.

Toronto's offense was by far the best in the Major Leagues during the regular season, but it has been a different story in the ALDS. The Blue Jays trail Texas, 2-0, in the best-of-five series heading into tonight's game (8 ET, FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet), thanks mostly to a potent offense that has yet to deliver on lofty expectations.

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The Blue Jays were limited to three runs in Game 1 and didn't fare much better with four runs over 14 innings in Game 2. The tipping point came when Toronto registered two hits over the final seven innings against the Rangers' bullpen, which has left the Blue Jays in a win-or-go-home situation.

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

"It is tough because history proves that [the odds are not good], but I feel good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "If we get one win under our belt and we get it the way we normally win, big outburst kind of night, I think we'll do OK. But we still have to do that because that's how we win."

The Blue Jays led the Majors with 891 runs scored this season, which was 127 more than the next-highest club, the Yankees. They averaged 5.5 runs per game, recorded 58 innings with at least four runs and scored at least 10 in a club-record 26 games.

Toronto is best known for generating its offense via the home run. The club led the AL with 232 long balls this year, but in reality, the lineup wasn't that one-dimensional. The Blue Jays also led the AL in doubles (308), walks (570), average with runners in scoring position (.286) and OPS (.797).

The problem in Game 2 was that instead of taking that patient approach, the Blue Jays seemed a little too focused on trying to take every pitch deep. That led to swinging at some pitches outside of the strike zone and taking all-or-nothing hacks. That will have to change in a hurry if the club wants its season to continue beyond today's Game 3.

"Everyone, naturally, wants to be the hero," Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar admitted. "Whether it's trying too much, or caring too much, obviously we saw what they were able to do with a two-out infield single [in Game 2] -- it led to two runs.

Blue Jays talk ALDS Game 3

"Were guys trying to do too much? I don't know, I can't speak for everyone, but for a lot of guys it's their first time, everyone wants to be a hero, everyone wants to be remembered, everyone wants to step up. Maybe that was the case, but you could also say their pitching is real good, as well."

The task won't be easy and as Gibbons suggested history isn't exactly on their side. Home teams that lost the first two games of a five-game postseason series -- including League Championship Series -- are 2-27. Teams that lost the first two games of a Division Series are 5-42.

Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson has been in this situation before. His 2012 Athletics team lost the first two games of the ALDS to the Tigers, but won the next two to force a decisive Game 5, which Oakland lost, 6-0. Donaldson came close, but not close enough, and he is still looking to advance to the ALCS for the first time in his career. If his confidence is wavering, Donaldson isn't showing it.

"We've gotten hot several times this year, we've won 11 [straight] games two times this year, and we believe in the caliber of players that we have in this room," Donaldson said. "We believe that we have an opportunity right now to play our best baseball and that's what we're going to do."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.