ARLINGTON, Texas — The Toronto Blue Jays stayed alive by relying on the long ball and their two Cy Young Award winners.
That’s not a bad recipe for success.
Toronto clubbed three home runs — all in the first two innings — to back pitchers R.A. Dickey and David Price, beating the Texas Rangers 8-4 Monday afternoon and even the American League Division Series at two games apiece.
The deciding Game 5 will be played Wednesday in Toronto. Neither team has won a home game in this series.
The Blue Jays led all of the majors with 232 home runs during the regular season. After two losses in Toronto, the Jays rediscovered their power stroke in Texas.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki broke open Game 3 with a three-run homer on Sunday night in Toronto’s’ 5-1 victory. On Monday, third baseman Josh Donaldson, first baseman Chris Colabello and center fielder Kevin Pillar each went deep with Toronto’s season hanging in the balance for the second consecutive game.
Pillar (3-for-4) finished with three RBIs, while Donaldson and Colabello each drove in two runs. Toronto racked up 12 hits.
The offense only told part of the story. The Blue Jays’ pitching staff gave up
only five runs in the two games at Globe Life Park. Dickey and Price, both Cy Young Award winners in 2012 in opposite leagues, did the heavy lifting in Game 4.
Dickey made his first career postseason appearance a memorable one, even if he didn’t qualify for the win. The 40-year-old knuckleballer allowed only one run, but he was pulled with two outs in the fifth inning for Game 1 starter Price.
“I was surprised,” Dickey admitted. “I don’t think there is a competitor out there that would or should be happy about coming out of that baseball game, but at the same time it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit. It’s great to have a guy like David to come in behind me.”
Price got the next nine outs, working into the eighth, to pick up the victory despite allowing three runs.
“I told them I would be ready for whatever situation they wanted me in,” Price said after his first relief appearance since 2010. “That was the mind-set I brought to the field, just be ready at any point in the game. That’s what I did.”
The move to Price opened many eyes, especially with Toronto up 7-1, but Toronto manager John Gibbons wanted to eliminate any doubt.
“One of the things I’ve learned over the years, sometimes the best way to win a game is don’t let a team get back into it,” he said. “It’s our first go-around in this kind of game, but we know what kind of offense they have.”
With Price out of the mix for the start Wednesday, Gibbons will turn to right-hander Marcus Stroman in Game 5. Texas figures to counter with ace left-hander Cole Hamels, the Game 2 starter.
“Even though we lost the last two games, we’re still confident,” said Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre, a surprise starter after missing the last two games. “We know we have the team to do it. We’ve beat them there twice, why can’t we do it again?”
The Jays jumped all over Texas starter Derek Holland in the first two innings, giving the left-hander his first career postseason loss. Holland couldn’t get an out in the third before getting yanked for right-hander Colby Lewis.
Donaldson started the onslaught with a two-run bomb to right in the first. Colabello followed two outs later with a solo blast to right for a 3-0 lead.
Pillar hit a mammoth shot to left-center in the second for a four-run lead.
When the dust settled, the Jays had scorched Holland for six runs on five hits. Lewis, the Rangers’ regular-season leader in wins, couldn’t stem the tide.
“When you make mistakes over the middle of the plate, bats have a tendency to come alive,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “I think that’s what happened early. Hitting is contagious. When you see guys go up early and put good swings on the ball, it creates a certain confidence up and down the lineup. It frees the swings up.”
Of the Rangers’ 11 hits, nine came from right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, Beltre, shortstop Elvis Andrus and catcher Robinson Chirinos. Designated hitter Prince Fielder, left fielder Josh Hamilton and first baseman Mitch Moreland — three of Texas’ big bats — combined to go 1-for-10.
Choo scored Texas’ first run on Dickey’s wild pitch in the third. Chirinos had a run-scoring single in the seventh to make it 8-2.
The Rangers scored twice in the eighth against Price to close the gap to four runs before reliever Aaron Sanchez came on to end the inning with a strikeout.
Toronto rookie Roberto Osuna worked a perfect ninth to close it out.