South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-soo hit his second career postseason home run, but his Texas Rangers got eliminated in the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Choo went 1-for-4, the lone hit being the solo shot in the third at Rogers Centre in Toronto, but the Jays mounted a dramatic comeback in the seventh inning for a 6-3 victory in deciding Game 5.
It was the Jays’ first postseason series win since the 1993 World Series. They became just the third club to win a best-of-five division series after losing the first two games at home, joining the 2001 New York Yankees and the 2012 San Francisco Giants.
After grounding out to second in his first time up in the first, Choo drilled a 0-1 fastball by Marcus Stroman over the right field wall for a solo home run, putting the Rangers ahead 2-0.
The Blue Jays answered back with an RBI double by Jose Bautista in the bottom third. Then in the bottom sixth, Edwin Encarnacion tied the game at 2-2 with a moon shot off Texas starter Cole Hamels.
The Rangers went ahead in the top seventh on a bizarre play, with Choo in the thick of it.
After Toronto reliever Aaron Sanchez threw a ball to Choo, catcher Russell Martin tried to toss it back to his pitcher, but the ball went off Choo’s bat as the batter stuck his arm out to get ready to face the next pitch.
As the ball rolled toward the third base, Rougned Odor sprinted home from third. Home plate umpire Dale Scott initially called time out but later awarded the Rangers the run following a lengthy conference with the crew. Choo was ruled to be still in the batter’s box when Martin’s throw deflected off his bat, he wasn’t called for interference.
The Rangers, though, couldn’t hold on to the 3-2 lead. They committed three errors in the bottom seventh to load the bases, and Josh Donaldson took advantage with a one-out bloop single to shallow center to tie the game at 3-3.
Bautista then hammered a go-ahead three-shot off reliever Sam Dyson, making it 6-3 for the home team.
Roberto Osuna got the final five outs for the save.
This was Choo’s second postseason appearance. He went 5-for-21 with a home run, two RBIs and four runs scored in the series.
Choo said after the game he was crushed not to have advanced to the AL Championship Series, especially after the Rangers stole the first two games in Toronto.
“I never thought a situation like this would ever come,” he said. “We all played hard and we accept the result. I am thankful for my teammates for making this far.”
Choo said he’d never experienced anything quite like what transpired in the top seventh, with Martin’s throw back to the pitcher going off his bat.
He said it was disappointing that the Rangers failed to hold on to the lead that the bizarre play provided, as shortstop Elvis Andrus committed two of the three errors in the bottom seventh. Choo refused to point fingers at anyone.
Back in spring, the Rangers weren’t expected to even reach the postseason, and Choo himself got off to a miserable start, batting a meager .096 in April. He got stronger as the season wore on and was named the AL Player of the Month for September.
“Now that I’ve had a taste this year, I’d like to win the World Series next year,” he said. “If we get our injured players back next year, we should become a better club.” (Yonhap)