TORONTO — One call was not going to get in the Toronto Blue Jays’ way of winning the fifth and deciding game of the American League Division Series.
Toronto was playing the game under protest after the Texas Rangers were awarded a run in the top of the seventh inning that was marked with controversy and debris littering the field.
Then the Blue Jays went about making the protest irrelevant with a 6-3 victory.
Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer with two outs in the seventh against right-hander Sam Dyson. The blast came after the Blue Jays tied the score in the inning with help from three Texas errors on the first three batters of the inning, a postseason first.
“I know crazy things happen in this game, especially this time of year,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I think it’s very rewarding for this group. We thought we were too good to bow out in the first round, but they were just as good over there.”
The Blue Jays protested after the Rangers scored a run to go
ahead 3-2 when catcher Russell Martin’s return throw to the pitcher inadvertently deflected off the hitter’s hand and trickled to the infield.
The benches cleared twice during the 53-minute seventh inning.
The Blue Jays became the third team to win a best-of-five series after dropping the first two games at home. The others were the 2001 New York Yankees and the 2012 San Francisco Giants. Toronto now faces the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series starting Friday in Kansas City, Mo.
The Rangers’ defensive meltdown in the seventh changed the game.
“Look, one inning won’t define who this ballclub is and who they’ve been all year long,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “I hurt for them.”
Bautista said he never before was in a game like this.
“Not at the big-league level, maybe in winter ball,” he said. “But that was about it. It was a lot of emotions, a lot of changing dynamics of the game and the momentum from team to team.”
Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels allowed five runs (two earned) on four hits while striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.
Blue Jays left-hander Marcus Stroman allowed two runs on six hits and one walk in six innings. He struck out four.
Right-handed reliever Aaron Sanchez pitched 1 1/3 innings to get the win. Right-hander Roberto Osuna struck out four in 1 2/3 innings for the save.
Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion both homered.
Encarnacion’s blast tied the game at 2 with one out in the sixth.
Second baseman Rougned Odor led off the seventh against Sanchez with a single. Catcher Chris Gimenez sacrificed the runner to second, and Odor took third on a groundout by center fielder Delino DeShields.
Odor scored when catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to Sanchez on a 2-2 count hit Choo and went to the left side of the infield. Odor initially was sent back to third. Banister protested, and the umpires huddled before ruling Odor should score.
“It’s still a live baseball,” Banister said. “That’s the rule. So how about my guy being heads-up and scoring on that play and not keeping his head down, because that’s who we are.”
Plate umpire Dale Scott admitted he was in error on his original call. “I was mixing up two rules and I called time and then it started clicking,” he said.
Gibbons argued and fans littered the field as they booed. A few drink containers still containing liquid landed on the field.
The call stood after a video review, and the Blue Jays announced that they were playing the game under protest.
“I’m still not certain what happened, what was going on, what the ruling is,” Gibbons said. “You saw Russell throwing the ball back, his hand sticking out. I don’t know if anybody saw that, but we saw it on video. Really it came down to the rules are what they are, and I’m still a bit in the fog about that. But you didn’t want something like that to be the deciding run in a game of this magnitude, so that was kind of my beef. But the umpire crew did a great job.”
Andrus booted Martin’s leadoff grounder in the bottom of the seventh, and first baseman Mitch Moreland was charged with a throwing error when he tried for the force at second on center fielder Kevin Pillar’s grounder.
Dalton Pompey, who pinch-ran for Martin, was safe at third on a bunt by second baseman Ryan Goins when Andrus dropped the throw.
Pompey was forced at home on Revere’s grounder to first.
Dyson then replaced Hamels, and third baseman Josh Donaldson’s flare to second eluded Odor, who got the force at second as the tying run scored.
Bautista followed with the decisive homer to left, flipping his bat as his left the batter’s box.
When the next hitter, Encarnacion, raised his bat and helmet to the crowd, apparently trying to calm the fans, both benches emptied. Order eventually was restored.
Dyson said Bautista’s antics in his celebration riled him.
“I told Edwin it just can’t happen, it needs to stop,” Dyson said. “I told him Jose needs to calm that down, respect the game a little more. He’s doing stuff that kinds are doing in Wiffle ball games, in backyard games.”
The Blue Jays had two more hits in the inning before shortstop Troy Tulowitzki fouled out to end the seventh and the benches emptied again briefly after Dyson patted Tulowitzki on the rear.