TORONTO (AP) — Two games into their first playoff appearance in 22 years, the Toronto Blue Jays have put themselves in a tight spot.
Backup infielder Hanser Alberto hit a game-winning single in the 14th inning Friday, helping the Texas Rangers beat the Blue Jays 6-4 for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
“The task at hand is pretty simple,” slugger Josh Donaldson said. “We have to win or we go home.”
This isn’t where the Blue Jays expected to be after a red-hot second half propelled them past the Yankees and secured their first division title since 1993.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “It’s not where you want to be but that’s what we’re faced with.”
The underdog Rangers will try to sweep the Blue Jays at home in Game 3 Sunday. Martin Perez will start for Texas against Marco Estrada.
“This is an uphill battle but it’s been done before,” Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.
San Francisco was the last team to do it, coming back to beat Cincinnati three straight times after losing at home in the first two games of their 2012 NL Division Series.
Alberto, batting last and only in the lineup because star third baseman Adrian Beltre was out with a strained back, made an error that led to Toronto’s first two runs but redeemed himself with his big hit in extra innings.
“We were pretty confident going into the second game regardless of Adrian getting hurt,” Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields said. “We were kind of bummed out about that, but we kept our heads up.”
Alberto, a 22-year-old rookie who made his big league debut this season, also had a sacrifice fly.
“It’s extremely special for him,” Rangers first-year manager Jeff Banister said. “Really, a guy that has sat at the end of the bench for us, an extra player.”
Texas shut out the highest-scoring team in the majors after the fifth inning. The victory for Banister’s team made road clubs 5-0 in the playoffs to that point — the only previous time that happened in the postseason was the 1906 all-Chicago World Series, STATS said.
Kansas City snapped that run with a 5-4 victory over Houston later Friday.
Keone Kela (1-0) worked one inning for the win, staying calm after a dustup with Donaldson.
Ross Ohlendorf, with an old-school, double-armed windup, finished for a save. The 33-year-old journeyman picked up the first save of his major league career earlier this year.
Mike Napoli hit a tying single for Texas in the eighth.
Another packed crowd at Rogers Centre that made a lot of noise early was quiet at the very end. Toronto, back in the postseason for the first time since winning the 1993 World Series, lost for the second straight day at home.
Rougned Odor hit a two-out single off Hawkins in the 14th but was nearly thrown out after going too far around second base on a single by Chris Gimenez, with the call confirmed by replay review.
“You wonder if 50,000 could be wrong,” Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said. “I’m pretty sure I saw some daylight there.”
That call proved pivotal when Alberto lined a single to center, sending Odor tumbling home.
The contentious replay wasn’t the only decision that had the Blue Jays hot. Martin said he’d likely have gotten thrown out for arguing some of the calls made by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
“He’s not the most experienced umpire, kind of young,” Martin said. “If he goes back and looks at the tape, I’m sure he’s going to realize it wasn’t his best day.”
Donaldson was back in the lineup after taking a knee to the head trying to break up a double play in the opener. He homered in his return.
Both benches and both bullpens briefly emptied in the bottom of the 13th when Donaldson and Kela traded words after the slugger’s deep foul went foul. Donaldson eventually struck out.
“We made eye contact and exchanged a few words,” Donaldson said.” He didn’t back down, I didn’t back down. I’ll leave it at that.”
Toronto starter Marcus Stroman took a 4-3 lead into the eighth. He left after a leadoff single by DeShields, and Shin-Soo Choo put down a sacrifice bunt against Brett Cecil.
After Prince Fielder struck out, Napoli singled. Napoli had been 2 for 17 in his career against Cecil before the tying hit.
Napoli was caught in a rundown to end the inning, but Cecil injured his left calf while chasing down Napoli and had to be helped off the field by the trainer.
“He’s got a pretty significant tear, so that’s not very good,” downcast manager John Gibbons said.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton finished 0 for 6 and is hitless in his past 30 postseason at-bats.
Choo hit an RBI single in the first and a second run scored on a throwing error by Martin. The Blue Jays escaped the jam when first baseman Chris Colabello turned an unassisted double play, tagging out Hamilton near the bag before sprinting across the diamond to retire Fielder, who was hung up between third and home plate.
Donaldson hit his first postseason home run in the bottom half of the first.
Toronto took its first lead of the series in the fifth. Pillar led off with a bloop double, went to third on a sacrifice by Ryan Goins and scored when Ben Revere grounded a single through the drawn-in infield.
Estrada took the loss in his only start against Texas this season despite allowing just one run in six innings. Perez did not face Toronto this season.