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A big factor in a pair of Texas victories to open a best-of-five American League Division Series in Toronto was the strong performance at the plate and on the bases from the Rangers’ hitters at the top and bottom of the lineup.
Specifically, leadoff man Delino DeShields Jr. and second baseman Rougned Odor have been a handful for Blue Jays pitchers and defenders.
DeShields, the rookie centre-fielder and 23-year-old son of the former Montreal Expo, is 5-for-11 in the series, having passed his father in career post-season hits. The elder DeShields went 3-for-16 in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and ’96.
Junior also has three runs scored, two runs batted in and a stolen base versus Toronto. He is also 1-for-1 with two walks against Marco Estrada, the Jays’ scheduled starter for Sunday’s Game 3 in Texas at 8 p.m. ET.
He’s outperforming six-year major leaguer Ben Revere, who is 3-for-10 with a run and RBI atop the Blue Jays lineup in the best-of-five series. Revere, who overcame a 0-for-13 slide following a July 31 trade from Philadelphia to post a .317 batting average and .348 on-base percentage in the second half, should have walked in his final two at-bats of Friday’s 6-4 Game 2 loss in 14 innings but chased pitches out of the strike zone that turned into outs.
Odor, 21, batted .261 with 16 homers in the regular season. While the five-foot-11, 170-pound Venezuelan is only 2-for-7 in the series, he has scored five times, including twice on hit-by-pitches and his solo home run off Blue Jays ace David Price in the seventh inning of Game 1 extended Texas’ lead to 5-3.
He’s also been a terror on the basepaths. In the second inning on Friday, Odor ran from first to third base on a chopper over the mound to Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman by No. 8 hitter Chris Gimenez with third baseman Josh Donaldson out of position. According to Statcast, Odor reached a top speed of 28.6 kilometres per hour (17.8 miles per hour) as he approached second but ramped it up to 31.7 km/h (19.7 mph) heading to third.
In the top of the 14th inning, Odor reached base on a grounder to shortstop. He then found himself in the path of controversy when he rounded second base and turned too aggressively for third on a Gimenez single. He appeared to take his foot off the bag but after video review the on-field safe call stood, leaving Odor in position to score on Alberto’s single to centre.
Meanwhile, the Jays’ 7-8-9 hitters of Martin, Pillar and Goins went a combined 2-for-15 with 6 strikeouts after going 2-for-10 with an RBI and strikeout in Game 1.