TORONTO — Game 5 of the American League Division Series between the Rangers and the Blue Jays had no shortage of drama Wednesday as the benches cleared twice, fans repeatedly threw debris on the field and Toronto played under protest after a botched throw back to the mound led to a controversial go-ahead run.
After Toronto catcher Russell Martin caught a pitch with two out in the seventh inning, he attempted to throw the ball back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez.
The ball struck the bat of Shin-Soo Choo, who was standing in the batter’s box and had his arm extended and bat upright. When the ball rolled down the third-base line, Rougned Odor scampered home to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Many players on the field thought the play was dead. Home-plate umpire Dale Scott conferred with his crew and decided the run would count.
The decision sent the raucous sellout Rogers Centre crowd into a frenzy, with some fans throwing garbage on to the field. Players gathered by the infield and some went into the dugout to avoid getting pelted by garbage.
Toronto manager John Gibbons argued with Scott and the play was eventually reviewed. The call stood after a review of over two minutes.
According to the official rules, if the batter interferes with the catcher’s throw to retire a runner by stepping out of the batter’s box, interference shall be called on the batter under Rule 6.03 (a) (3).
However, if the batter is standing in the batter’s box and he or his bat is struck by the catcher’s throw back to the pitcher (or throw in attempting to retire a runner) and, in the umpire’s judgment, there is no intent on the part of the batter to interfere with the throw, the ball is alive and in play.
Television replays showed Choo standing still in the box with virtually no bat movement.
Sanchez got out of the top half of the inning without further damage and the Blue Jays responded with four runs of their own in the bottom half, capped by a Jose Bautista home run to deep left field.
The Toronto slugger stood and watched the no-doubt blast as the crowd erupted.
Cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion then approached the plate and Texas pitcher Sam Dyson walked towards the batter’s box to exchange a few words. That emptied the dugouts and saw more debris thrown on the field.
No punches were thrown and some players visibly urged fans to refrain from throwing trash on the turf.
About two dozen police officers ran on to the playing surface and stood guard around the perimeter of the field as stadium workers picked up the trash.
Troy Tulowitzki popped up to end one of the crazier innings you’ll see. Dyson had some comments for Tulowitzki as the Rangers walked back to their dugout and appeared to tap the Toronto shortstop on the hip.
Tulowitzki had some words for the pitcher and the dugouts cleared again. After some pushing and shoving, both teams returned to their dugouts and play eventually resumed.
The Blue Jays held a 6-3 lead after seven innings of the decisive game.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press