Did you know? Key facts from the AL Wild Card Game
By Andrew Simon and Matt Kelly
The 2016 postseason got off to an incredible start on Tuesday night, as Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off three-run homer in the 11th inning delivered the Blue Jays and their fans an unforgettable 5-2 win over the Orioles in the American League Wild Card Game.
It was easily among the most exciting Wild Card Games since the contest was introduced in 2012, joining Kansas City's 12-inning comeback against the A's in '14. It was the Blue Jays' first walk-off win in the postseason since Joe Carter's iconic World Series-winning blast in 1993. Tuesday's game shared several parallels with those famous contests, along with many other historic October moments.
Before the Blue Jays head to Texas to face the Rangers in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, 4:30 p.m. ET Thursday on TBS in the United States and Sportsnet (English) and TVA (French) in Canada, let's take a look at a few things you should know about Toronto's thrilling win:
• Encarnacion's home run was the second walk-off hit in Wild Card Game history, joining the 12th-inning single by Salvador Perez to lift the Royals over the A's in '14. It was the 28th extra-innings walk-off homer in postseason history and the first since Raul Ibanez hit a solo shot to lift the Yankees over the Orioles in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS.
Encarnacion also delivered the Blue Jays' first postseason walk-off hit and walk-off RBI since Carter's homer in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. It was the second walk-off RBI hit by a Blue Jays player in an extra-innings postseason game, joining Al Oliver's walk-off single in the 10th inning of Game 2 of the 1985 ALCS.
• Encarnacion became the fourth player to hit a walk-off homer in a postseason-elimination game, according to ESPN. The others were the Yankees' Aaron Boone (2003 AL Championship Series) and Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS) and the Pirates' Bill Mazeroski ('60 World Series).
• Jose Bautista's solo homer in the second inning opened the scoring on Tuesday, and also put Bautista in some revered Toronto company. It was Bautista's fifth home run in 12 postseason games, leaving him one shy of Carter's franchise record. It also marked Bautista's second straight postseason game with a home run, following Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS and made him the fourth Blue Jays player to homer in back-to-back postseason games, joining Devon White (1993), Carter ('92) and Roberto Alomar ('92).
• After Kevin Pillar's diving catch in the fourth inning fired up the Rogers Centre fans, Baltimore's Mark Trumbo silenced them (at least momentarily) with a two-run homer in the next at-bat that gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Trumbo's blast was the third postseason go-ahead homer hit by an O's player when the team was trailing, following B.J. Surhoff's game-changing three-run homer in Game 3 of the 1996 ALDS and Merv Rettenmund's homer in Game 1 of the 1971 World Series.
• Trumbo's two-run blast marked the fourth time in history that the Major Leagues' regular-season home run leader hit a homer in a postseason elimination game. The last player to do so was Reggie Jackson, in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series, preceded by Johnny Bench in Game 5 of the 1972 NLCS and Babe Ruth in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series.
• With Blue Jays teammate Michael Saunders on second in the fifth inning, Pillar showed some unusual swing selection to feed the flames of a Toronto rally. On a 1-2 count, Baltimore starter Chris Tillman threw a pitch that was 4.6 feet off the ground, but Pillar swung and connected for a double down the right-field line. It was the second-highest pitch struck for a hit in the Majors this year, according to Statcast™.
• Orioles reliever Mychal Givens took over for Tillman in a tough spot, with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth, in a 2-2 tie. When Givens' first pitch of an at-bat was put in play this season, opponents were 10-for-24 (.417) with a 1.087 OPS, but Devon Travis offered at Givens' first offering and grounded into an inning-ending double play.
• O's reliever Darren O'Day, who induced a crucial ground-ball double play to get his team out of a ninth-inning jam, had gotten only one of those during the regular season (31 innings). Meanwhile, it was the third time in the game Toronto had hit into a double play. The Blue Jays grounded into an MLB-high 153 double plays this season.
• The Orioles and Blue Jays entered the ninth inning tied, 2-2, making it the first Wild Card Game to be tied entering the ninth inning. After Baltimore's Brad Brach and O'Day escaped a jam in the bottom of the ninth, it became the second extra-innings Wild Card Game in history, joining the Royals' win over the A's in '14.
It was also only the 10th postseason elimination game to go extra innings, but the first one in which either the O's or Blue Jays participated. Home teams are 9-1 in those extra-innings postseason elimination games.
• Trade Deadline acquisition Francisco Liriano picked up the win for Toronto, while Ubaldo Jimenez took the loss. Tuesday's game was the second AL Wild Card Game -- and the third AL postseason game in the past 14 years -- in which both the winning and losing pitchers came out of the bullpen. The Royals' Jason Frasor got the win and the A's Dan Otero was hung with the loss in the 2014 AL Wild Card Game, and the Yankees' Mariano Rivera defeated the Red Sox's Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the '03 ALCS.