Here we go again!
The Blue Jays and Rangers are meeting in the American League Division Series for the second consecutive year. The drama that percolated into the five-game, knock-down, drag-out, bat-flipping, on-field-scuffling froth last year continued into 2016 with a regular-season rumble and now keeps going into October.
The Blue Jays won the season seriesDuring the 2016 regular season, the Jays took four of seven head-to-head games against the Rangers. Over those seven games, the Jays outscored Texas by a hefty margin of 36-21. In those seven games, however, the Blue Jays faced neither Cole Hamels nor Yu Darvish, who will make up half of the Texas ALDS rotation. So that's something to bear in mind.
The Rangers had the best record in the AL this year at 95-67 and earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Last year, the series began -- and ended -- in Rogers Centre because the Blue Jays had the better season mark of the two, but this time around, Toronto had to get here by beating Baltimore, 5-2, on an Edwin Encarnacion walk-off home run in the 11th inning of the Wild Card Game at home on Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays come into this game in a bit of an offensive slump, having spent much of September struggling to score runs. But they still have power up and down the batting order. They finished fourth in the bigs with 221 homers and feature eight players with double-digit dingers: Encarnacion with 42, Josh Donaldson with 37, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Saunders with 24 each, Bautista with 22, Russell Martin with 20, Justin Smoak with 14 and Devon Travis with 11.
The Rangers have home-field advantageHome-field advantage in baseball of course amounts to nothing more than the right to play a potential final game of a given series at home. So with an eye toward a possible ALDS Game 5, let's point out that the Rangers this season were 53-28 with a +34 run differential at home and just 42-39 with a -24 run differential on the road. On the other side, Toronto in 2016 was 46-35 at home with a +38 run differential at home and 43-38 with a +55 run differential on the road.
Game 2 -- Friday Oct 7 Toronto at Texas 11:00 Sask time
Game 3 --Sunday Oct 9 Texas at Toronto 530 Sask time
Game 4 --Monday Oct 10 Texas at Toronto TBA *
Game 5 --Wednesday Oct 12 Toronto at Texas TBA*