Three-run triple gets by Desmond in CF, while Beltre, Hamels lament near misses on deflections
By Ryan Posner
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers didn't commit an error during the third inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series. But three defensive miscues in that frame led to five runs for the Blue Jays, who went on to take a 10-1 victory on Thursday at Globe Life Park.
Troy Tulowitzki's three-run triple over the head of Texas center fielder Ian Desmond proved to be the most pivotal play, pushing Toronto out to a 5-0 lead. Desmond appeared to have a shot at making the play, due to his deep positioning.
"I was playing on the pull side and just went for it," Desmond said. "I made that play the other day. I don't know. It just got by me."
According to Statcast™, when Tulowitzki hit the ball, Desmond was 328 feet away from home plate. The Major League average for center fielders is 314 feet. Desmond covered 133 feet and reached a top speed of 20.2 mph, but he hesitated momentarily near the warning track, resulting in a subpar 73.1 percent route efficiency.
"Not real sure of the relationship with [Desmond] and the wall, but we've seen him make that catch," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "And it would've been a great catch. We just didn't come up with it."
Desmond didn't believe the tough shadows created by the afternoon start were a factor. Banister said he had yet to speak in-depth with Desmond about what happened.
"I'm not going to assume what the situation was," Banister said. "We'll go back and look at the video. We'll communicate with him."
Tulowitzki's bases-clearing triple -- only the 14th such hit in postseason history -- capped the big inning off Texas starter Cole Hamels. All five runs were scored with two outs.
Hamels first had an opportunity to get out of the inning with Josh Donaldson at the plate and Ezequiel Carrera at second. Donaldson crushed a Statcast-projected 109-mph liner that hit off the webbing of third baseman Adrian Beltre's glove and got by him into left field, scoring Carrera.
"I just missed it by a little bit," Beltre said. "I kind of lost it in the fans, but I had it in my glove. I should've had it. ... Who knows what happens if we make that play?"
"It's always nice when they fall," Donaldson said. "All you can do as a hitter is try to put together a good at-bat, hit the ball hard. When you hit the ball soft, sometimes that works out, too. Today I was able to get some hits, contribute to this win, and it was nice to get that run early."
Hamels was then presented with another opportunity when Edwin Encarnacion followed with a line drive back at him. But Hamels deflected the ball toward shortstop Elvis Andrus, as Encarnacion reached safely. Second baseman Rougned Odor was shaded toward the middle of the field, and he may have been able to make a play on the ball had it not been deflected.
"That's the way the game goes," Hamels said. "Sometimes there are going to be great plays, and then other times there are going to be unique circumstances. I have to just go after them and make pitches. I wasn't able to do that today."
The Blue Jays went on to score seven runs (six earned) off Hamels, which were career postseason highs for the left-hander. He allowed just four earned runs in two starts against Toronto in last year's ALDS.
"You know, I thought we worked [Hamels] really tough, because he's one of the elite pitchers in the game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That third inning, we made him work and got a couple of big, big hits."
Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.