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Playoff Gameday Thread, #9: Elimination Day

The American League Division Series come to an end with a pair of win or go home games, back where it all started, in Toronto and Kansas City.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Game 5, 1:07 pm FS1. Series tied 2-2
Cole Hamels
RHP, 13-8, 3.65
Marcus Stroman
RHP, 4-0, 1.67
Delino DeShields Jr. - CF Ben Revere - LF
Shin-Soo Choo - RF Josh Donaldson - 3B
Prince Fielder - DH Jose Bautista - RF
Adrian Beltre - 3B Edwin Encarnacion - DH
Mitch Moreland - 1B Chris Colabello - 1B
Josh Hamilton - LF Troy Tulowitzki - SS
Elvis Andrus - SS Russell Martin - C
Rougned Odor - 2B Kevin Pillar - CF
Chris Gimenez - C Ryan Goins - 2B

You probably couldn't have written a better script from the Toronto Blue Jays' viewpoint for their first playoff series in 22 years. Their much vaunted offense failed them in the first two games sending them off to Texas on the brink of elimination. But they succeeded in winning two road games there, outscoring the Rangers 13-5, and sending the series back to Toronto. The Blue Jays were tied with the Astros for the best home record in the American League this season, though you would be forgiven for not knowing that based on the first two games. Still, their team OPS is now 187 points better than the Rangers for the series, mostly due to a 6-2 advantage in home-runs.

This is a rematch of Game 2, which the Astros won 6-4 in 14 innings. Both starters went seven innings and allowed four earned runs there, though each allowed one or more unearned runs, and their Game Scores were very similar (Hamels 59, Stroman 56). Having used ace David Price for 50 pitches during Game 4 on Wednesday, his status for this contest is unclear, but one imagines in a situation like this (especially as he is the only left-handed pitcher the Blue Jays have), it will be all hands to the pumps if needed. At least there won't be any former Diamondbacks relievers to cough up a phlegm-globber in this one!

Game 5, 5:07 pm FS1. Series tied 2-2
Collin McHugh
RHP, 19-7, 3.89
Johnny Cueto
RHP, 11-13, 3.44
Jose Altuve - 2B Alcides Escobar - SS
George Springer - RF Ben Zobrist - 2B
Carlos Correa - SS Lorenzo Cain - CF
Colby Rasmus - LF Eric Hosmer - 1B
Carlos Gomez - CF Kendrys Morales - DH
Evan Gattis - DH Mike Moustakas - 3B
Luis Valbuena - 3B Salvador Perez - C
Chris Carter - 1B Alex Gordon - LF
Jason Castro - C Alex Rios - RF

A little later in the day, the Royals will seek to come back from a series which I had already written off. If the Royals win the World Series, I'll be printing that comment out, in a format suitable for framing! That was largely thanks to a pair of ex-Diamondback relievers, in Will Harris, who loaded the basis for the Royals in the eighth, without retiring a batter, and Tony Sipp, who unloaded them. That was with the help of an error on a possible double-play ball, which also gave us one of the best pitcher reactions in the post season since Ted Lilly's glove toss - If the Astros lose today, this is the image which will haunt their winter.

It has certainly been an interesting post-season for former Arizona bullpen operatives. The five who have taken part (Sipp, Harris, Addison Reed, Trevor Cahill and Oliver Perez) have been involved in three decisions, going 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA, having allowed seven earned runs over 11 combined innings of work, though there is a wide variation in their individual performances. Sipp actually has yet to allow an earned run during his five appearances, and Cahill has struck out six over just 2.2 innings. However, Harris must have angered the BABIP gods, giving up eight hits in four innings, and Perez has faced four batter and retired one. We'll see what happens on Elimination Day!