ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays are bashing so far in the postseason, and they show no signs of slowing down. Toronto homered three times in the fifth inning of Friday afternoon's 5-3 win over the Rangers in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, giving the Blue Jays six jacks this series.
It was the 11th time in postseason history a team has hit three homers in an inning, with the most recent instance coming Thursday night in Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS. Before that, it had not happened since Game 2 of the 2008 AL Championship Series, when Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay went deep in the fifth inning.
"Home runs are always a good thing. What did we hit, four today?" said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose club became the first in franchise history to record four homers in a postseason game. "It wasn't easy. We weren't getting many hits, but if you can [hit] some home runs, that makes a huge, huge difference."
Toronto's fifth-inning scoring started with Kevin Pillar's solo shot off a 2-1 four-seam fastball from Rangers starter Yu Darvish. The pitch was 4.16 feet off the ground at the point of contact; only two homers all year were hit on higher pitches (Corey Dickerson's homer 4.22 feet off the ground on Sept. 11 was the highest).
Pillar, who sent the ball out with an an exit velocity of 94.3 mph, according to Statcast™, has been making a habit of hitting high pitches. In Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game against the Orioles, he doubled on a pitch 4.61 feet off the ground.
"I felt like I've gotten good pitches to hit this whole series. I haven't been able to get any hits," Pillar said. "I just stayed aggressive. I was also in a good count, too. I felt like I was going to get a fastball and put a good swing on it."
One out later, Ezequiel Carrera struck with his own solo blast, sending a 93-mph fastball a projected 388 feet (by Statcast™) with an exit velocity of 98 mph.
Edwin Encarnacion launched the third homer of the inning, sending Darvish's 2-1 four-seamer out at an exit velocity of 102 mph and a projected distance of 357 feet.
"Everybody is playing really good right now," Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna said. "This is a team that I think everyone knows it was the right time. Hopefully, we can keep playing like this at home."
"What it boils down to is a thin margin in these type of games," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Four home runs and four unexecuted pitches."
And a commanding 2-0 series lead. The power surge, which comes on the heels of Thursday's 10-1 win, keeps the Blue Jays' offense red-hot after a slide to end the regular season. Toronto had just 25 homers in 26 games in September/October, which was the fifth fewest in the Majors.
The Blue Jays, who were 80-39 in the regular season when they hit at least one home run and 9-34 when they didn't, have had six players homer in the first two games of the series. They are one shy, according to Elias, of tying the record in a Division Series.