By Bob Elliott
ARLINGTON, Tex. _ Dane Johnson sat at the back of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse.
It was a winning clubhouse for the first time since Oct. 2, five games ago.
The Blue Jays got on the board in this best-of-five American League Division Series by beating the Texas Rangers 5-1 at Globe Life Park Sunday night.
The victory forced a Game 4 Monday at 4:10 with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey going against lefty Derek Holland. The Jays have to win Monday to force Game 5 at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday.
Johnson, the bullpen coach was doing what bullpen coaches do after wins: watching video and sipping on a cold soda.
How close was David Price, who started Game 1, to coming into the game?
“He was hot,” said Johnson, bullpen talk for meaning Price was ready as Aaron Sanchez struck out Shin-Soo Choo for the final out of the eighth.
Price, who was supposed to start Game 5 if there was one, was also up in the seventh when lefty Aaron Loup -- the Jays are without Brett Cecil -- retired Rougned Odor on a grounder knocking in the only Rangers run as Estrada departed with a 5-0 lead and runners on second and third.
“He threw 18 pitches in total,” Johnson said. “He was ready to go in the game the second time.”
Marco Estrada worked 6 1/3 innings, then Loup, Mark Lowe, Sanchez and Roberta Osuna worked 2 2/3 hitless innings.
So, Price had two “ups” Sunday. Will he be in the bullpen on Monday when Game 4 takes place in Arlington?
“I expect he’ll be fine,” manager John Gibbons told reporters.
And Price will have company in the bullpen in Game 4 in Game 2 starter Marcus Stroman, who was also a possibility to start Game 5 if Price was used.
“It’s that time of the year, I’ll be ready in the bullpen, David will be ready, everyone will be ready,” said Stroman.
It’s like that old line about saving an arm for the tournament final ... and losing in the semi-final. The guy you were saving was rested for next year.
“I was throwing the first time to stay loose,” Price said. “My body bounces back well.”
Seated on a couch Russell Martin, who didn’t play, was talking about what he saw: catcher Dioner Navarro doubling off the centre field fence and scoring the game’s first run, and all improved at-bats from his teammates.
The Jays walked three times in 23 innings and 85 plate appearances in the first two games.
Edwin Encarnacion was walked intentionally by manager Jeff Banister with Josh Donaldson on third and one out in the fourth with the Jays leading 1-0. Martin Perez then walked Chris Colabello and walked Troy Tulowitzki forcing in a run. Three walks in 15 plate appearances.
“You never go up there trying to get a walk, but I saw better at-bats from our guys tonight,” Martin said. “We stuck with pitches in the zone. At home I swung at ball four -- a 3-0 pitch from Cole Hamels -- and grounded out. Mitch Moreland did the same tonight.”
The Jays walked five times, one knocking in a run and Encarnacion scoring on Tulowitzki’s three-run homer.
The Jays had hit into double plays in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth and now looked about set to fritter away a none-out, bases-loaded, situation after Colabello grounded into a 3-2-3 double play.
“That ball was smoked,” said Martin.
Up stepped Tulowitzki hitless in 11 at-bats in the ALDS. He hit a 3-2 pitch from Chi Chi Gonzalez which landed in the first row in left.
“We had so many chances,” said Martin, “that game could have been a blow out.”
Instead, it was a 5-1 win as the Jays lived to play another day.
The Jays will take it.
Dickey will start.
It’s like when the captain of the ship yells “all hands on deck.”