Toronto didn’t sweep Ian Desmond and the Texas Rangers because of momentum, they swept
because they’re the better, more well-rounded ball club. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)
I thought I was finished writing about the Texas Rangers this season a few days ago after the Blue Jays convincingly swept them in the ALDS, thus eliminating Texas for a second straight year from the post-season. For the most part, Texas dealt with the sweep pretty well and mostly said after the series concluded that the Blue Jays outplayed them in every facet of the game and deserved to take the series. One of the only sore spots came from Rangers center fielder Ian Desmond who was quoted as saying the following after Texas had been eliminated on Sunday:
“One thing I can say is that there is momentum coming from that wild card game. I’m never one for excuses, but it seems like we sit around for a few days while the other team is gaining momentum.”
Did Toronto have momentum coming out of their wild card victory over Baltimore? You bet they did. Does the momentum the Blue Jays built-up with their wild card win explain why Texas came out flat as could be and wound up losing Game 1 of the ALDS 10-1? Most certainly not.
Just because a team, in this case the Rangers, get six more victories during the regular season than the opposition they’re facing in the post-season, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Rangers are the better ball club. The Blue Jays dominated across the board in the division series, so for Desmond to attribute Toronto’s dominating performance on one additional game they played in the wild card match-up, it sounds a lot like a sorry excuse from someone who doesn’t quite understand all the other reasons that factored into why the Blue Jays defeated the Rangers in such convincing fashion.
Toronto’s offense, defense, and bullpen all outperformed that of the Rangers…but the overwhelming difference between these two teams was their depth of starting pitchers. Texas, with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish essentially had two starting pitchers you’d feel comfortable going with in the post-season, whereas the Blue Jays, with J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman, and Francisco Liriano had five starters worthy of starting in the post-season. Honestly, and this is an easy statement for me to make, I’d take every one of those five Toronto starters over the 3rd best starting pitcher Texas has.
Much like professional sports is full of athletes who thrive in the big moment (e.g. Madison Bumgarner), and vice versa athletes who are a shadow of themselves as soon as the playoffs begin (e.g. David Price), the same thing goes for entire teams. In this case, Texas, a solid club during the regular season, choked big-time come the playoffs. Whereas the Blue Jays, a team that had a less than stellar regular season and earned a place in the wild card game on the very last day of the regular season, proved how much better they can be when the games matter most.
For Desmond to say that Toronto had the advantage over Texas because of the wild card game is ludicrous. Especially considering that it was Texas who was playing so hard to close out the regular season in an effort to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs and also a division series match-up against the wild card winner. What happened with Texas was that when the games mattered most, they ended up dropping the ball, much like Desmond did in Game 1 of the ALDS on a long fly-ball by Troy Tulowitzki that ended up going for a bases clearing triple.