Canadians dig the long ball.

If that wasn’t true before the Toronto Blue Jays completed a sweep of the Texas Rangers Sunday night with a 7-6 extra-inning win, it’s certainly true now.

Toronto got a pair of home runs Sunday off the bats of first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and catcher Russell Martin. In all, seven Jays hitters have combined for nine home runs in the team’s four postseason games.

The Blue Jays have won all four contests, blasting past the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Wild Card Game and casting aside the AL West-winning Rangers.

Now, as they train their sights on the American League Championship Series, they’ve served notice to the Junior Circuit and the rest of the baseball world: There’s a threat looming north of the border.

Before we move on to the Jays’ chances, let’s look back at their tussle with Texas.

This wasn’t just any division-series scrum. There’s bad blood brewing between the Rangers and Blue Jays dating back to last year’s ALDS, when Jose Bautista let fly the bat flip heard ’round the galaxy.

Then, in May, Bautista got beaned, made a hard slide into second and met the mean right hook of Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor.

There were no such fireworks in the 2016 Rangers/Jays ALDS. But a fan did craft a stinging sign that burned especially hard after Toronto’s Game 3 win, via Error Free in 2015:

We’re not here to pile on the Rangers, who had a memorable season despite their ho-hum plus-eight regular-season run differential, easily the worst among playoff qualifiers.

In fact, yours truly picked Texas to advance to the ALCS. 

The point is to highlight these Jays and the way they’ve steamrolled through October. After busting the franchise’s 22-year playoff drought in 2015, Toronto is threatening to mimic those ’93 Jays and snag a Commissioner’s Trophy.

The power numbers leap off the screen. Really, though, the Jays are advancing a diverse attack.

Their deep starting rotation has been mostly exemplary, with Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ allowing two earned runs in 13.2 innings, Marcus Stroman fanning six in six innings and Aaron Sanchez showing flashes of brilliance in his uneven start Sunday against Texas.

Closer Roberto Osuna returned from his Wild Card Game injury scare and struck out six in five scoreless postseason innings, fronting a bullpen that has surrendered just two runs in 14 innings overall.

The heart of Toronto’s offensive, though, has been the bats. 

Encarnacion has three homers and a 1.411 OPS. Bautista boasts two home runs and five RBI. Ezequiel Carrera, Kevin Pillar, Troy Tulowitzki, Melvin Upton Jr. and Martin have also gone deep.

On Sunday, Toronto plated the winning run on an errant throw by Odor, much to the delight of the grudge-nursing Rogers Centre faithful. 

Josh Donaldson has been nursing a hip issue, which made his walk-off dash all the more impressive.

“With all the fans screaming, it kind of numbs the pain a little bit,” Donaldson said, per Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star. “It gives your legs that jolt of adrenaline.”

For the most part, the Jays’ trip to the ALCS is predicated on thump.

Encarnacion and Bautista are pending free agents. It’s likely, if not certain, this Jays team will be busted up in 2017.

That endows this run with a special, pressing significance.

Now Toronto awaits the winner of the ALDS matchup between the Cleveland Indians and favored Boston Red Sox, which Cleveland leads 2-0. The Jays went 3-4 against the Indians and 10-9 against Boston this season, for what it’s worth.

No matter who comes out on top, they’ll grapple with a Toronto team that’s flying high.

The Jays have plenty going for them. But maybe nothing is more compelling than a certain F-word, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted:

They smacked around Rangers ace Cole Hamels in Game 1. They vanquished co-ace Yu Darvish in Game 2. They dramatically finished the job Sunday in front of a roaring horde of Canadians who, presumably, dig the long ball.

And, more to the point, dig their Blue Jays.


All statistics current as of Sunday and courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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