Roberto Osuna was in an unfamiliar spot when teammate Edwin Encarnacion squared up a pitch from Baltimore Orioles’ reliever Ubaldo Jimenez to clinch the Toronto Blue Jays their dramatic wild card victory late Tuesday night.
Normally in the thick of the action late in the game as the Blue Jays closer, the 21-year-old Osuna was not in the dugout but in the trainer’s room receiving treatment for a sore right shoulder when Encarnacion hit his thunderous blast in the bottom of the 11th inning at Rogers Centre.
Osuna was watching the tension unfold from the television.
“I was so excited,” Osuna said later in the soggy confines of the Blue Jays clubhouse, where another champagne celebration was unfolding. “I was jumping in the training room and I forgot I got ice on my shoulder and George (Poulis, the Toronto trainer) was like, ‘Hey, Osuna, stop jumping around.”
For a player who had been abruptly pulled from the game with one out in the 10th inning after getting Chris Davis to pop out to right field, Osuna appeared rather relaxed.
Part of that was obviously due to the 5-2 Toronto win that propels the Blue Jays into an American League Divisional Series against the rested Texas Rangers in a delicious rematch of last season’s volatile playoff.
The first two games of the best-of-five affair will begin on Thursday in Arlington, Tex.
Osuna was also feeling optimistic after learning that an issue in his right shoulder that flared up in the 10th inning while on the mound does not appear to be serious.
Working his second inning, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and Poulis were called to the mound by Osuna after he won the battle against Davis for the first out of the inning.
After a few moments of discussion, Gibbons called to the bullpen for Francisco Liriano.
“I felt like a big stretch in my shoulder when I threw the fastball to Davis in the tenth inning,” Osuna said. “And then I threw the fastball up and in and I feel it a little bit bigger so that’s why I was like, I don’t want to get hurt and I told Gibby to pull me out of the game.”
Osuna said he felt the discomfort in the front part of his shoulder.
“There’s no pain,” he said. “It feels like a stretch. I can’t describe it because I didn’t feel pain. I’m feeling good right now.”
Osuna said a team doctor told him the problem was likely fatigue and that he should be okay after a couple of days rest.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” Gibbons said. “It (the shoulder) just tightened up on him. The smart thing to do was just get him out of there.”
So that is how Osuna came to be in the training room when Encarnacion teed off against Jimenez in the bottom of the 11th in a 2-2 ballgame for the winning home run.
With Cy Young candidate Zach Britton, a perfect 47 for 47 in save situations this season, remaining glued to the Baltimore bench, Encarnacion scorched a fastball into the stands in left field with two on to ignite a huge celebration within a pent-up Rogers Centre.
“I was looking for a pitch,” said Encarnacion, who will be a free agent at the conclusion of this season. “I was looking for a fastball and I was trying to put the barrel on it, get a little bit in front because the infield was playing in. And I actually got it.”
The outcome will mean that the Blue Jays will contest the Rangers once again in the ALDS where the series last season was won on Bautista’s dramatic home run and the ensuing bat flip seen ‘round the world in Game 5.
Earlier this season, the Rangers extracted some revenge when second baseman Rougned Odor slugged Bautista in the face to start an on-field brawl.
“Very excited,” Bautista said when asked about his thoughts on renewing hostilities against the Rangers. “Any opponent I would have been excited but with them we have a little bit of history – not only last year in the playoffs but this season too.
“We’re looking to win ballgames and hopefully put them away.”Report Typo/Error
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