Edwin Encarnacion slammed a three-run homer in the 11th inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays to a 5-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night in a drama-filled American League wild-card game.
Devon Travis singled with one out off Ubaldo Jimenez, a starter who was Baltimore’s seventh pitcher on the night, and moved to third on Josh Donaldson’s single. Then Encarnacion went to work, depositing the ball over the left-field fence.
The Jays dugout emptied, sending a jubilant mass of Toronto players onto the field. The capacity crowd chanted “Eddie, Eddie.”
Toronto now faces Texas, the top seed in the American League, on Thursday in Arlington to open the five-game AL Division Series.
Toronto has history with Texas.
Last year, Bautista’s dramatic three-run homer — complete with bat flip — lifted the Jays past the Rangers in Game 5 of the AL Division Series before a riled-up capacity crowd of 49,742 at the Rogers Centre.
Toronto went on to lose to the Kansas City Royals in six games in the AL Championship Series.
The bad blood between the Jays and Rangers bubbled to the top in May when Texas second baseman Rougned Odor punched Bautista in the face after objecting to the Toronto outfielder’s slide. That sparked a bench-clearing melee at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Odor was subsequently suspended for eight games while Bautista got a one-game ban. In all, 14 players and staff members were disciplined.