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Encarnacion Hits Walk-Off Homer to Power Blue Jays past Orioles in Thrilling AL Wild-Card Game

Toronto beat Baltimore 5-2 in 11 innings in what was an instant postseason classic.
Game over. Photo by Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff baseball is the best, and we were treated to a doozy to kick off the 2016 postseason.

Toronto and Baltimore, the two American League East rivals, played a nail-biting wild-card game in front of a bunch of crazy towel-swinging fans in Canada, and Edwin Encarnacion made sure they went home happy. Even the jackass who threw a beer at Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim during the seventh inning.

Encarnacion hit a walk-off three-run homer to power the Blue Jays to an exhilarating 5-2 extra-inning win over the Orioles in what was an instant postseason classic. The Toronto slugger slaughtered a first-pitch fastball off Ubaldo Jimenez to left field in the 11th inning to lift Toronto to victory in the do-or-die contest.


Both bullpens, following starters Marcus Stroman and Chris Tillman, kept the potent offenses in check until Jimenez's season-ending offering was blasted into the second deck. Although Baltimore's pitching staff turned in an effective effort, there were many questions for O's manager Buck Showalter, who inexplicably didn't turn to All-Star closer Zach Britton—he of the 0.54 ERA and perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities—at any point during the game, despite numerous opportunities in a contest that was knotted at 2-2 until Encarnacion's dramatic walk-off.

Many outsiders wondered if Britton was hurt, but Showalter kiboshed that notion postgame. He simply elected not to use the best closer in baseball, which will turn into an ultimate 'what if' moment for Baltimore sports.

As if things couldn't get more dramatic, Toronto's victory sets up a showdown between the Blue Jays and Rangers in the LDS, a rematch of last year's unforgettable series.

While Tuesday's wild card turned into a thriller, it was quiet through three innings—the exception being the Toronto crowd and a Jose Bautista solo shot—with Stroman retiring nine straight to begin the game, and Tillman allowing just one hit.

The O's eventually got to Stroman in the fourth on a two-run bomb by the major league home run leader Mark Trumbo that gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead, effectively silencing the rabid Blue Jays fans who were buzzing following a sensational diving catch from Kevin Pillar the batter before.

But Ezequiel Carrera tied things up an inning later with an RBI single to center field, and the game remained that way until Encarnacion's no-doubter sent the sell-out crowd into pandemonium.

The game wouldn't have been complete, though, without Joey Bats doing what Joey Bats does. Bautista, the postseason darling from a year ago, opened up the scoring in the second inning, going deep to left field to give Toronto an early 1-0 lead.

The asshole who threw beer at Kim, as he camped out to catch a fly ball at the warning track in left, caused the one lowlight in this otherwise sensational game. Kim made the play and luckily wasn't hit with the projectile. We can only hope the moron was kicked out of the building.

Game 1 of the Blue Jays-Rangers LDS matchup begins at 4:30 ET on Thursday. Get your popcorn ready. It's gonna be fun.