Going the distance: Jays use long ball to beat Rangers, force Game 5
Sure, R.A. Dickey was disappointed when he saw Blue Jays manager John Gibbons walking toward the mound.
The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a six-run lead and was one out shy of qualifying for a win in his first postseason start.
Dickey also knew he was handing the ball off to a fellow Cy Young Award winner, and Toronto went on to beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 on Monday to force a deciding Game 5 at home in the AL Division Series.
"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 Gibby," 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."
Toronto led 3-0 even before Dickey threw his first pitch, with Josh Donaldson and Chris Colabello homering in the first inning.
"That’s great. If you could script it, obviously, that’s what you’d want," said Donaldson, who has reached safely in five of his last nine appearances, including two homers in the series.
The Blue Jays made it three homers in the first eight batters against Derek Holland when Kevin Pillar connected in the second for a 4-0 lead. Pillar’s drive was caught by Price, who was playing catch in the bullpen with Marcus Stroman.
Game 5 is Wednesday. Cole Hamels starts for the Rangers against 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.
"Our mindset the whole time has been you’ve got to win three games, however you do it, when you do it," said Pillar, who also had a pair of RBI singles. "But it’s definitely nice knowing flying home we’ve got another game."
Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner when he won 20 games for the New York Mets, allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings and was pulled with a 7-1 lead, with a runner on base. Shin-Soo Choo, already with two hits, was coming to the plate.
"It was hard for me to do, but I thought that was the best way to win the game, keep them from coming back," Gibbons said. "Probably not a relationship-building move, but a team win, that’s what I was looking for."
Price needed only one pitch to retire Choo to end the fifth, and went three innings to get the win after losing in the series opener.
Only two teams in MLB 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 the ALDS at Tampa Bay, then lost Games 3 and 4 at home before winning the deciding fifth game against the Rays on the road.
"We did it in 2010, so why not 2015? We want to win. We really want to win really hard," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We’re going to do what we’re supposed to do. And that’s the key for us, score early and let Cole do the rest."
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.
Dickey gave up five hits with three strikeouts and no walks. The Rangers got three runs off Price, who was gone after a two-out RBI single by Andrus in the eighth that made it 8-4.
Price won his Cy Young Award with Tampa Bay, was traded to Detroit midway through the 2014 season and was acquired by the Blue Jays on July 30. The lefty allowed five runs and five hits over seven innings in Game 1 on Thursday, when he dropped to 0-6 in six playoff starts. His only other postseason victory was also in relief.
Third baseman 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 he hurt sliding into second base Thursday. He moved gingerly going to first base after both hits, and did the same when advancing to second base on a wild pitch that allowed Choo to score in the third inning.
"When I got up this morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not," said Beltre, who was then asked if he was still day to day. "I’ll let you know when I wake up tomorrow."
Hamels and Stroman will pitch on regular rest. The Rangers have won the last 11 games started by Hamels, who they added in July in a trade from Philadelphia. Stroman was tossing in the bullpen with Price early in Game 4.
I GOT IT
Before the game, Price told Pillar to hit a ball into the bullpen. Pillar delivered with his first postseason homer in the second. "It was hit right to me, so that was pretty cool," Price said. "I got it authenticated."