Choo, Encarnacion, Estrada, Evans, Lalonde

By Bob Elliott

ARLINGTON, Tex. _ Edwin Encarnacion was walking his usual purposeful stride towards the third base dugout Saturday afternoon.

“I’m not ready to go home yet,” said Encarnacion, as he walked behind the batting cage. Encarnacion is from La Romana in the Dominican Republic.

To the other side of the cage, Justin Smoak exited after hitting another bomb to right field and being teased by manager John Gibbons and infielder Munenori Kawasaki.

“I’m sure not ready to go home yet,” said Smoak, from Goose Creek, S.C.

Off to the other side of the cage, third base coach Luis Rivera was hitting ground balls to infielders.

“I’m not ready to go home yet,” said Rivera, from Cidra, Puerto Rico. “I was with the Cleveland Indians in 2007, we were leading the Boston Red Sox 3-1 and we were home for Game 5 ... we lost the series.”

Jays bench DeMarlo Hale was coaching Boston that year.

Yes, the Jays were a brave lot deep in the heart of Texas despite the fact they were down 2-0 in the best-of-five American League Division Series, with Game 3 scheduled for Sunday night at 8:10.

It’s easy to be brave when there is only one team at Globe Life Park. 

The point was --- and it would be bigger news if they said anything different than “I’m not ready to go home yet” -- it has been done. 

The 2012 San Franciscio Giants dropped the first two to the Cincinnati Reds and then won three straight in Cincy.

“We have to win Sunday,” Encarnacion said, “then we have to win Monday. And then we get to go home for Game 5. We’ve won three games in a row before.”

He sounded like Terry Francona managing the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who trailed the New York Yankees 3-0 in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

The 2001 Yankees came back to beat the Oakland A’s after falling behind 2-0, but that’s it in 29 tries after the home team lost the first two.

“I haven’t been down 0-2 before,” Smoak told reporters, “but you look at some stuff that’s happened in the past. I remember the Giants down 0-2 to Cincinnati, they came back against a good team.

“It’s definitely possible where we’re at. We feel that we have the guys here that can do that. That’s our goal and that’s our focus.”

After their offence sputtering and puttering, the Jays were the liveliest club at Globe Life since the Rangers had gone for eats. 

A comeback won’t be easy with Brett Cecil, their best reliever, lost and the Rangers sporting left-handed hitters Mitch Moreland, Odor, Josh Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder and Odor.

All the Jays need is a good old-fashioned boat race.

Or two.

Or three.  

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCKING: How does that old saying go? If you claim you were robbed in the 14th by the umps ... well maybe you should have won the game in the first 13?

There was plenty of gnashing of teeth when with two out the Texas Rangers managed back-to-back singles off reliever LaTroy Hawkins. The second, by Chris Gimenez, went to right and Jose Bautista threw behind Odor.

Troy Tulowitzki tagged Odor and kept his glove on runner long enough, the Jays contended, for Odor to come off the bag. He was called safe by second-base umpire Marvin Hudson.

Jays manager John Gibbons asked for a review from crew chief Dale Scott. Replay officials did saw the video evidence as inconclusive. Odor remained at second and scored the lead run on Hanser Alberto’s RBI single.

A Major League Baseball spokesman said that after viewing relevant angles, replay officials “could not definitively determine that the runner’s foot lost contact with the base at any time while the tag was being applied. The call STANDS. The runner is safe.”

Zero umpires were spotted holding the Jays bats -- like one hockey puck going into the corner to grab the other guy’s stick -- when they attempted to swing.

“You’d be surprised how many times you stand on the field, watch the replay with that head set on and think ‘well this one is going to be overturned,’ and it’s not,” said crew chief Scott on Saturday. “Those high-def cameras in New York are better than the naked eye. Unless you see daylight on a play ... it’s tough to overturn.”


FLOATING ZONE: Vic Carapazza had the plate on Friday only his second ever plate assignment in post season. The Jays fanned 15 times, seven on a called third strike. The Rangers struck out 10 times Friday, three on called third strikes ... Working Game 2 of the NLDS between the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals, Carapazza ejected Nationals Asdrubal Cabrera and manager Matt Williams for arguing ball-strike calls after Cabrera was called out on strikes in the 10th inning. The Giants won 2-1 in 18 innings.


ONE REASON OR FOUR: There is a good answer as to why the Jays broke their playoff drought this fall as opposed to their all-in season of 2013. They can catch the ball.

Consider the 2013 lineup up the middle: J.P. Arencibia behind the plate, Emilio Bonifacio at second, Jose Reyes at short and Colby Ramus in centre.

And since July 28 it has been Russell Martin catching, Ryan Goins at second, Tulowitski at short and Kevin Pillar in centre.


THREE STRAIGHT: The Jays have not lost three straight games since July 8-10 going back 75 games. Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton led off the 11th with a homer off Roberto Osuna, Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago White Sox blanked the Jays and R.A. Dickey 2-0 and then Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals beat Marco Estrada to drop the Jays to a game below .500.

Estrada starts Sunday against lefty Martin Perez.


SCOUT EM UP: Jays scouts Danny Evans and Jon Lalonde provided excellent scouting reports to the Jays pitchers on how to pitch the Rangers hitters. Texas is hitting 16-for-81 (.198) as a team. Centre fielder Delino DeShields leads the way with five hits. Outside of DeShields, the Rangers are hitting 11-for-70 (.157) through the first two games. The only player with more than one hit besides DeShields is Odor (2-for-7, .286).   


ODDS-ON, ODDS-OUT: Before the playoffs began the Blue Jays had a 19% chance of winning the World Series the best chance of any team.

Not after losing the two first games to the Texas Rangers in their best-of-five ALDS the odds have changed. 
The Rangers have a 22% change of winning while the Jays are down to 5%. The chances change daily with the completion of each day’s action.


EDMONTON STAR: Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo was 1-for-9 in his first two games at the Rogers Centre, 
Wearing Korean colors, during the world junior championship held at Telus Field in Edmonton in 2000, Choo had one of the more memorable appearances on the international stage. 

Facing Team USA he pitched two innings of relief. The lefty entered in the first with two men on and none out. He pitched two innings and then manager Cho Sung Ok sent him to centre field. 

Then, in the 11th with two out, Choo came on in relief again and pitched 2 1/3 more innings as Korea beat Team USA 9-7 in 13 innings to win the gold before 3,500 fans. 

Seattle Mariners scout Jim Colburn gave Choo a signing bonus of $1.39 million US. He said he gave all of his bonus to his family from Pusan, Korea, for, “taking care of him for 18 years.” Choo’s fastball was clocked at 93-94 miles per hour, before and after his stints in the outfield. 


RANGERS LINEUP: Catcher Robinson Chirinos had only five starts in the final 51 games because of a ruptured tendon in the left biceps. He threw out 12 of 41 runners (29.2%) this year ... Elvis Andrus ran into 15 outs on the bases ... Josh Hamilton had surgery on his left knee on Sept. 11 and is 7-for-38 since returning from the surgery (including 0-for-10 in post-season play) ... Choo. had 35 hits in last 85 at-bats reaching base in 53 of last 55 games.