The Toronto Blue Jays went deep early and used a pair of Cy Young Award winners to force a deciding Game 5 in an American League division series.
Josh Donaldson and Chris Colabello hit home runs before 40-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey threw his first postseason pitch, and the Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers, 8-4, in Game 4 on Monday to send the series back to Toronto.
Game 5 is Wednesday. Cole Hamels starts for the Rangers against Marcus Stroman in a rematch from Game 2, which Texas won in 14 innings.
After losing the first two games in the series at home, the Blue Jays won both games in Texas in a span of 24 hours.
Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young winner, allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings and was pulled with a 7-1 lead and a runner on base. Then 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price took over and pitched three innings, getting the win after losing in the opener.
“When you look over your shoulder and you’ve got a guy like this coming in behind you, it makes it a whole lot easier to give the ball to [Manager John Gibbons],” Dickey said, with Price seated to his right after the game. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit. … We’re going back to Toronto with a chance.”
Kevin Pillar also connected as three of the first eight Toronto hitters homered off Derek Holland, in his first postseason start since 8 1/3 scoreless innings against St. Louis in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series.
Only two teams in major league history have lost a best-of-five series after winning the first two games on the road — Oakland against the New York Yankees in 2001, and Cincinnati to San Francisco in 2012.
On the way to their first World Series in 2010, the Rangers won the first two games of an ALDS at Tampa Bay, then lost Games 3 and 4 at home before winning the deciding fifth game against the Rays on the road.
The Blue Jays, in the playoffs for the first time since their 1993 World Series championship, have won nine of their last 10 postseason road games. Texas dropped to 1-9 in division series games at home.
Adrian Beltre, who hadn’t played since exiting early from the series opener because of lower back stiffness, was a late addition to the Rangers’ starting lineup.
Beltre had two singles and a deep flyout, but the 36-year-old third baseman clearly was still having issues with his back, which he hurt sliding into second base Thursday.