The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Game 5 of Blue Jays-Rangers ALDS

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during Game 5 of the ALDS on Wednesday. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Ian Hunter owns The Blue Jay Hunter blog and tweets from @BlueJayHunter


It will go down as one of the most chaotic postseason games of all time. People will be talking about it for decades. Suffice it to say, Game 5 of the ALDS will be permanently etched into the memory of Toronto Blue Jays fans forever.

It’s only been a few months since the dramatic winner-take-all game between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers, but that exceptionally bizarre contest is still fresh in the minds of many a baseball fan.


WATCH: 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Postseason in Review December 25 at 9 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on Sportsnet


This game had everything: exhilarating home runs, bat flips, bizarre plays nobody had ever seen before, multiple instances of the benches clearing, and parents shielding their children from flying beer cans.

Game 5 of the ALDS was an instant classic; it’s something that’s worth going back to re-watch at least a few more times for the seventh inning alone. New things are uncovered after each subsequent viewing of Game 5 … and that’s why it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The Bat Flip Heard Around the World

With one swing of the bat, Jose Bautista cemented his legacy in Toronto Blue Jays history. The home run now known as the “bat flip” joined Joe Carter’s home run as a “where were you” moment for Blue Jays fans everywhere.

If you were in attendance at the game, you probably had no idea that Bautista tossed his bat in the most epic way imaginable. John Gibbons himself said he didn’t see Jose Bautista’s bat flip until after the fact; Gibby was simply tracking the ball to make sure it went out of the yard.

It’s only after multiple re-viewings of the game that you get a true sense of how important that moment was. Like Gibbons himself, I remember not even seeing where the ball went. Once Jose Bautista swung and the TV cameras panned to the left field seats, complete pandemonium ensued.

When you slow it down and take a look at the little things, you notice one of the police officers working the game had a total “fan moment”. One of Toronto’s finest quickly looked over his shoulder and did a quick fist pump after Bautista’s home run.

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Martin Thanks the Baseball Gods

 

After the iconic bat flip by Bautista, this is arguably the next-best image from Game 5 of the ALDS: Russell Martin thanking the Baseball Gods. Shortly after Bautista’s go-ahead home run, Martin was shown in the dugout praying to a higher power, incredibly relieved at what had just transpired.

It’s not all that unusual to see people praying at a game, but it’s typically in anticipation of something good about to happen. In Russell Martin’s case, it was him saying “thank you”. Perhaps Bautista’s home run was an olive branch extended by the higher powers.

Before Bautista’s homer, Martin may have been on the hook for that entire loss. After Martin attempted to throw the ball back to the pitcher, only to have it clank off Shin-Soo Choo’s bat, he was in danger of becoming the goat of the 2015 Blue Jays’ season.

But with one swing of the bat, Bautista corrected the fluke play behind home plate and Martin was suddenly exonerated. In fact, Martin wasn’t the only one shown praying on-camera.

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Rogers Centre Was Rocking

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Game 5 of the ALDS might’ve been the loudest the Rogers Centre has ever been. The fans absolutely erupted once the ball left Bautista’s bat and cleared the left field fence.

With the amount of energy and excitement expelled by the crowd, it’s surprising the roof didn’t blow off the stadium. There was never an official decibel reading, but here’s a visual cue that tells you just about everything you need to know.

The fans were screaming so loud and generating so much noise that several of the television cameras were physically shaking just after Bautista’s home run.

Gibbons’ Decision to Pinch Run for Martin

Knowing what we know now, it was the right choice to bring in Dalton Pompey as a pinch runner for Martin in the bottom of the seventh. But at the time, it was somewhat of an unorthodox call.

Martin is a decent baserunner, and lifting him from the game meant Dioner Navarro would have to enter as a substitute behind the plate. And with the potential for Martin to have another at bat, shouldn’t Gibbons have stuck with Martin?

One other thing about this move; Pompey was brought in for Martin mid-way through the at bat, which is something that almost never happens. Goins made a bunt attempt, and only after the count was already 0-1 did Pompey enter for Martin.

It was an incredibly risky move that had the potential to backfire on the Blue Jays. Even though Pompey didn’t ultimately score, having his additional speed on the base paths affected the game in other ways.

Pompey’s Takeout Slide at Home

Speaking of Dalton Pompey, he played a vital role on another play that won’t show up on the box score. Pompey’s takeout slide of catcher Chris Gimenez helped lengthen the bottom of the seventh inning for the Jays and made it one out rather than two.

The play itself was reviewed by the umpires because initially it was thought there may have been catcher interference, but the slide was ruled legit.

Other than scoring on the play, Pompey accomplished the next best thing by preventing Gimenez from turning a double play against the Blue Jays.

Don’t Forget About Edwin’s Heroics


Everyone remembers the bat flip around the world, but Edwin Encarnacion’s game-tying solo home run in the sixth was another crucial turning point.

Through the first five innings, Cole Hamels had only surrendered three hits while holding the Blue Jays’ potent lineup to merely one run. With the game at its midway point and Cole Hamels in cruise control, things were beginning to look pretty grim for the Blue Jays.

But Encarnacion changed all that with his home run off Hamels in the sixth inning.

After that moment, it really felt like things were beginning to turn the corner and the momentum was about to swing in favour of the Blue Jays. Little did they know, both teams were about to experience the most bizarre set of circumstances in the following frame.

Who Was Actually Ejected: Cecil or Saunders?

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Most people know that Mark Buehrle was ejected from Game 5, but did you know Brett Cecil got tossed as well?

There was a great deal of confusion from the Blue Jays’ dugout as they couldn’t discern who had been ejected. David Price thought it was him, Michael Saunders thought it might’ve been him, but according to the box score, Buehrle and Cecil were the ones ejected.

Several members of the Blue Jays’ roster were chirping the umpires, and after third base umpire Vic Carapazza gestured towards the Jays dugout, they all looked quite confused. Me? No, him? Him, me?

The official call? Cecil was ejected by Carapazza for arguing the non-interference call on the ball that Martin threw back to the mound. Buehrle was then ejected by home plate umpire Dale Scott for running on the field.

Not only was Buehrle at the front of the pack after the altercation at home plate between Edwin Encarnacion and Sam Dyson, Buehrle burst back onto the field after Dyson brushed Tulowitzki as well.

Buehrle may have been dressed in a Blue Jays uniform, but as a player not on the playoff roster, he wasn’t allowed to be on the field and was thus ejected from the game.

But here’s the confusing part; even though the box score says Cecil was ejected, he remained in the dugout throughout the rest of the game. However, Michael Saunders was seen exiting the dugout after yelling back and forth with the umpiring crew in the seventh.

So was it actually Michael Saunders who was ejected and not Brett Cecil? That remains one of the great mysteries from Game 5 of the ALDS.