ARLINGTON -- In a rematch of last year's American League Division Series, it took the Blue Jays all of three innings to take control.
Toronto set the tone in this matchup between bitter rivals and used a five-run third inning to cruise to a 10-1 victory over the Rangers in Game 1 on Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park. That was more than enough run support for right-hander Marco Estrada, who allowed just four hits and one run over 8 1/3 innings in the longest start by a pitcher in Toronto postseason history.
"We definitely got our tails whipped today," Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "They kicked our tails, but we still have four games left. We've got to find a way to win tomorrow."
"When you're on the road, that's something you want to do is quiet the fans, and I think we did a pretty good job," Estrada said. "Obviously, we don't want any momentum on their side, and scoring seven runs by the fourth -- that's going to keep a lot of people quiet."
The Blue Jays did most of their damage against Rangers No. 1 starter Cole Hamels. Troy Tulowitzki had a bases-loaded triple, Melvin Upton Jr. homered and Josh Donaldson finished his afternoon with four hits, including a pair of doubles. Jose Bautista also added a late three-run homer as Toronto scored its most runs since a 10-2 victory over Seattle on Sept. 20.
"In reality, we were due to break out," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I thought we worked Cole really tough, because he's one of the elite pitchers in the game. That third inning, we made him work and got a couple of big, big hits. ... But that's one thing we do even when we're struggling with at-bats -- we make starters work."
Hamels allowed seven runs -- six earned -- which set a career postseason high. He gave up a lot of hard contact and didn't receive much help from his defense en route to surrendering six hits and three walks compared to recording just 10 outs. The 3 1/3 innings also was the shortest outing of his postseason career, and Hamels has not won a game at Globe Life Park since Aug. 25.
"Obviously, we would have liked to have played a lot more competitively," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "But the other thing you've got to look at is Estrada pitched a heck of a game. We didn't have the game we were looking for from our side, but no, I don't feel there will be any collateral damage."
Estrada was an entirely different story. Through the first five innings, Estrada's lone blemish was an infield single by Beltre to lead off the second. Estrada did not walk a batter and faced just one batter over the minimum through the first eight innings. The outing was somewhat reminiscent of his victory over Texas in Game 3 of last year's ALDS when he kept his team alive by allowing one run over 6 1/3 innings.
The only good news for the Rangers is they won't have to wait very long for their shot at redemption. Texas and Toronto are set to do battle again on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT on TBS and Sportsnet, with right-hander Yu Darvish on the mound for the Rangers and left-hander J.A. Happ getting the call for the Blue Jays.
"I feel happy that we won the ballgame," Bautista said. "Coming off having to claw our way back into the playoffs and the Wild Card Game and putting up a lot of runs early feels good, especially when you're backing a start like Marco had today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Tulo Time: With two runs already on the board in the third inning, Tulowitzki stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. The Blue Jays had Hamels on the ropes, and this time they did not let him off the hook as Tulowitzki lifted a deep fly ball to right-center field that landed just beyond the outstretched glove of Ian Desmond. According to Statcast™, the ball left Tulowitzki's bat with an exit velocity of 102.5 mph and a launch angle of 26 degrees.
Three runs came around to score as Tulowitzki came through with the first postseason triple of his career and the 10th in franchise history. Hamels allowed five runs and threw 42 pitches in the third inning alone, which led to his short afternoon. More >
"I think he made a few mistakes," Tulowitzki said. "I think he'd be the first one to say that. It's unlike him. I'm sure if we see him again, he won't do that."
Hamels' short start: Hamels' start tied for the third-shortest outing in Rangers postseason history. The seven runs were tied for the second most allowed by a Rangers pitcher in a postseason game. C.J. Wilson allowed eight runs in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS against the Rays. The seven runs and six earned runs were the most Hamels has allowed in 16 postseason starts, and it was also his shortest outing. More >
"When you get in certain situations, you can kind of overdo it," Hamels said. "You get to the heart of that lineup, that's a tough lineup. You don't want to leave pitches down the middle to those guys, because obviously you get to see what type of damage they do. It's more subtle -- trying to overdo things. When you try to overdo, overpower, you throw through your pitches. Sometimes pitches don't break as much as they would if you're in more of a controlled state. So I think that kind of led to a lot of my misses, just trying to overdo a lot of pitches in that sense."
Up, up and away: Upton entered this game with just two hits in 24 career at-bats vs. Hamels, but his second plate appearance of the day was a big one. The veteran outfielder lifted an 0-2 fastball from Hamels and sent it over the wall in left field. According to Statcast™, Upton's eighth career postseason homer had a projected distance of 368 feet and left his bat at 100 mph. All of Upton's previous seven postseason home runs came back in 2008 with the Rays.
Gomez makes great catch: Rangers left fielder Carlos Gomez made a terrific running catch on Edwin Encarnacion's deep drive to end the sixth inning. Gomez raced back and made a backhanded catch before he crashed into the wall. More >
"I just ran hard, put my glove up and was able to make the catch," Gomez said.
"Winning is not worth it unless you go through tough times sometimes. I've always felt that way. You go out and win every game, that gets boring after a while. There's no quit in this clubhouse, I know that." -- Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy
"Little hints of [Greg] Maddux in Marco with the ability to locate. Not the same arsenal of pitches -- Maddux had a little bit more movement on his fastball, but he was by no means a power pitcher, he was finesse. Marco has that ability to add and subtract on his pitches and really hit spots. He made it look easy out there, and it's really not." -- Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rangers are 1-10 at home all time in Division Series play. The only win was in Game 2 of the 2011 ALDS in an 8-6 victory over the Rays. That win came after a 9-0 loss in Game 1.
Road teams that have gone up 1-0 in the LDS have gone 31-13 in the series entering the 2016 postseason. Since moving to a 2-2-1 format, road teams that went up 1-0 have gone 25-12. The Rangers did, however, go up 1-0 on the Blue Jays last season at Rogers Centre before dropping the series.
Donaldson became the sixth Blue Jays player to record four hits in a postseason game. He's also the fourth Blue Jays player with two doubles in a postseason game and he became the first Toronto player to reach base five times in a postseason game since Roberto Alomar in Game 4 of the 1992 AL Championship Series. More >
Estrada is the third pitcher in Toronto postseason history to record a start of at least eight innings and one run or no runs allowed. He joined Dave Stieb (Game 1, 1985 ALCS) and David Cone (Game 2, 1992 ALCS).
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Happ pitches for the Blue Jays against the Rangers on Friday in Game 2 of the ALDS at Globe Life Park. Happ will be making his second career start and ninth overall appearance in the postseason. He is 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA in five career starts against the Rangers. More >
Rangers: Darvish pitches for the Rangers and will be making his second postseason start. He allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Orioles in the 2012 AL Wild Card Game. He was 6-2 with a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts at home this season and is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in seven career starts against the Blue Jays. More >