Tulowitzki gives Jays boost with 3-run homer

Home run is shortstop's first hit of postseason

Tulowitzki gives Jays boost with 3-run homer

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays have been desperately searching for that spark, the big blow, the one player to step up and bring this offense back to its elite form. They may have found it Sunday night in the form of Troy Tulowitzki.

Tulowitzki came through when the Blue Jays needed him the most with a three-run shot in the sixth inning that propelled his club to a 5-1 victory in Game 3. Toronto trails the best-of-five series, 2-1, with Game 4 here on Monday (4 p.m. FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet), but all of a sudden, there is hope and Tulowitzki is one of the main reasons why.

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

The Blue Jays had chance after chance to put the game away early against Texas, but couldn't come up with the big hit. As the missed opportunities continued to grow, so too did the worries about Toronto's ability to hang on to a slim 2-0 lead. Tulowitzki put an end to all of those concerns with one swing.

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"I think it was definitely huge," said Tulowitzki, who finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. "I think in the moment I was definitely pumped up, got back to the dugout and everybody's obviously excited to put us up by five."

Toronto's lineup is the best in baseball, but producing during the postseason presents a different kind of challenge. The pitching is better, the scoring opportunities aren't as frequent and when it comes to the Blue Jays, they are trying to get by without one of their star players in top form.

If this was the regular season, Tulowitzki would not be playing. He rushed back at the end of the season from a cracked left shoulder blade and played in two games, but he readily admits the injury has not fully healed. There are countless hours spent in the trainer's room before and after each game to make the discomfort somewhat bearable.

Must C: Tulo puts Game 3 away

Until Sunday, the pain was also felt in his performance. Tulowitzki entered his at-bat in the sixth riding an 0-for-11 skid in the postseason and he hadn't resembled the All-Star player everybody knows he can be. The three-run shot changed that, and if and he's able to carry some of that momentum into Game 4, then it gives the Blue Jays lineup a completely different look.

"Tulo needed that, he really did," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He had that long layoff after the injury and then it's been kind of a battle for him this year. Offensively, he's got some key hits along the way, but he hasn't hit like he normally does. Maybe that sets him off and then he came back and followed that with a single. If he catches fire, we're real dangerous."

Gibbons on ALDS Game 3 win

The Blue Jays needed that fire in Game 3, or else they may have been going home. Toronto had the leadoff runner on base in every inning from the third until the sixth. Twice during that span they had the bases loaded, but only two runs to show for it.

In the sixth, another bases-loaded situation was stalled when Chris Colabello hit a sharp grounder to first base. Mitch Moreland threw home to get the first out and Robinson Chirinos then threw to first to complete the double play.

It was the fourth consecutive inning that the Blue Jays hit into a double play and logic suggested at some point the missed chances would catch up to them. Tulowitzki made sure they didn't when he worked the count full off Rangers rookie Chi Chi Gonzalez and sent one over the wall in left for the three-run shot.

Tulowitzki on homer, Game 3 win

"It was awesome," Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "We had been needing that big blow, that was one of those big blows for us right there.

"You get a win, you feel like you're catching little breaks here or there. We played pretty well tonight. We're going to have to play better tomorrow in order to win, but that said, we're happy to walk away tonight with a win."

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.