TORONTO -- The Blue Jays bashed their way back to the American League Championship Series, tying an AL Division Series record with seven players going deep in the three-game sweep over the Rangers that culminated with Sunday's 7-6, 10-inning walk-off win.
"What we do -- we get criticized a lot for it -- we rely upon that home run ball," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of a group that has outhomered its opposition 10-3 this postseason to return to the ALCS. "You know what? Whether you like it or not, that's the kind of players we have."
The Blue Jays will play the Indians in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday at 8 p.m. ET at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The ALCS will be broadcast on TBS, as well as Sportsnet and RDS (in French) in Canada.
"And when we run into a little drought, you come up empty a lot of nights, low-scoring games, that kind of thing," Gibbons said. "Really, it was a tough September; we battled. We really picked it up at the end just to get in. And since the month has turned over to October, it kind of looks like the old team."
Coming off a September in which Toronto scored the fewest runs in the AL, the Blue Jays capped a fantastic ALDS against the Rangers with two more big blows in the clincher.
After Texas scratched out a run in the top of the first, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run home run and Russell Martin added a solo shot in the bottom of the inning.
For Martin, it was his first hit of the postseason, snapping an 0-for-11 stretch in emphatic fashion. The exit velocity of 106.8 mph made it Martin's fifth-hardest-hit homer this year, and it had a projected distance of 378 feet, according to Statcast™.
It was also the Blue Jays' ninth of the series, tying an LCS record with the 2015 Cubs, '04 Astros, '02 A's and 1995 Yankees. Records aside, Toronto's lineup coming alive -- coupled with its strong starting rotation -- makes it a very dangerous team as MLB moves into its final four.
"We definitely feel good with where we're at," said Josh Donaldson, Sunday's walk-off hero, who raced home from second on Martin's grounder following a throwing error by second baseman Rougned Odor to score the winning run in the 10th. "We're pitching well and we're playing good defense, and right now we've been able to hit the homer. And that's big. That's a positive for our offense, because there's times when we rely on that because we don't have a lot of guys in our lineup that are speed-oriented and that are going to really take advantage of a lot of extra bases.
"That's not really how we're built. But we are built to hit the long ball, and we were able to do that this series, and it's going to be important for us throughout the entire way."
Down, 1-0, after the first three outs, Encarnacion wasted no time putting Toronto back out in front with a towering two-run shot to left field off a Colby Lewis slider. According to Statcast™, the ball came off Encarnacion's bat with an exit velocity of 104.8 mph and a launch angle of 32 degrees, making it a barreled ball, and the home run had a projected distance of 395 feet. It marked his second homer of the series and third this postseason.
During the regular season, only three of the 19 homers Lewis allowed came on sliders.
This one gave Encarnacion four postseason homers, the third-most postseason homers in club history, with Joe Carter and teammate Jose Bautista each having totaled six. Encarnacion has homered in three of his past four games. Sunday's blast mirrored his game-winning three-run homer in the 11th inning of the AL Wild Card Game against the Orioles on Tuesday night.