ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays worked Rangers starter Cole Hamels for five runs in a 42-pitch top of the third inning en route to a 10-1 win in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Globe Life Park on Thursday.
Troy Tulowitzki had the big blow with a three-run triple to center field. It was only the 14th such hit in postseason history and the first by the Blue Jays. The last player to hit a bases-loaded triple in the postseason was the Dodgers' Blake DeWitt vs. the Phillies' Jamie Moyer in Game 3 of the 2008 National League Championship Series. The last AL player to do so was the A's David Justice vs. the Twins in Game 2 of the 2002 ALDS.
The ball left Tulowitzki's bat with an exit velocity of 102.5 mph and a launch angle of 26 degrees, making it a Barrel by Statcast™'s standards, and batted balls with those traits have a batting average of .882.
However, Desmond's deep positioning gave him a chance to catch the ball. He was 328 feet from home plate when the ball was hit, according to Statcast™, which is extremely deep. The Major League average for center fielders is 314, and Desmond's average is 329, which means he plays the second-deepest center field in the Majors behind only the A's Jake Smolinski (330 feet), who, like Desmond, did not play center field until this year.
In fact, Desmond, Smolinski and the Royals' Paulo Orlando were the only three center fielders in the Majors who had an average starting position more than 325 feet from home plate in 2016 (minimum 5,000 pitches in center). Perhaps not coincidentally, it was the first time all three saw regular reps at that position. On the flip side are Michael Taylor (Nationals), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) and Denard Span (Giants), who had the shallowest average starting position among center fielders, at 306 feet.
Despite playing so deep, Desmond reached 20.2 mph and covered 133 feet, but he took a poor path to the ball -- likely due to the shadows on a sunny autumn afternoon and the apparent perceived proximity to the wall -- producing a route efficiency of 73.1 percent and allowing Tulo's smash to land safely in front of the wall.
"We were playing [Tulowitzki] to pull, but solid approach," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "He drove the ball in the right-center gap; not real sure of the relationship with [Desmond] and the wall."
"I felt like I had a pretty good bead on it," Desmond said. "When I got there, it was a little deeper than I thought."
As Desmond approached the warning track, he hesitated for a moment, and the ball one-hopped to the wall in right-center. Though the shadows were tough at Globe Life Park because of the afternoon start, he doesn't believe that played a factor.
"We've played a lot of day games here, and I'm pretty familiar with that," Desmond said.
Josh Donaldson doubled in Ezequiel Carrera, who had drawn a one-out walk, to put Toronto on the board. Donaldson was ruled safe on a close play at second, and after the Rangers challenged, the call was ruled to stand.