With their season on the line the Blue Jays made quick work of the Rangers in Game 4 of the ALDS, knocking left-hander Derek Holland out in the third inning on the way to a blowout victory to force a Game 5 back in Toronto.
Despite being armed with a big early lead Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was kept on a short leash by manager John Gibbons, who yanked him with two outs in the fifth inning in favor of Game 1 starter David Price despite a 7-1 lead.
Price threw 50 pitches in what was essentially a mop-up role–although he allowed three runs in three innings to make it a closer game–suggesting the Blue Jays were either being extremely cautious or they just preferred to start Marcus Stroman over Price in Game 5 anyway. Gibbons can now point to “needing” the former Cy Young winner in relief as a reason to bypass him in Game 5, rather than simply making it about preferring Stroman.
In fact, neither team is using their Game 1 starter in Game 5. Rangers manager Jeff Banister indicated before the Game 4 loss that left-hander Cole Hamels, not right-hander Yovani Gallardo, would start Game 5. And clearly Gibbons was leaning toward Stroman over Price all along.
Stroman was thought to be lost for the season when he tore his ACL during spring training and four months later the Blue Jays gave up big value to acquire Price to headline their playoff rotation. Now it’s Stroman, not Price, getting the ball with a spot in the ALCS on the line. And he’ll face the Rangers’ big trade deadline pickup in Hamels.
Wednesday should be fun.