Giants

Encarnacion sends Blue Jays to ALDS with walk-off homer vs Orioles

Encarnacion sends Blue Jays to ALDS with walk-off homer vs Orioles

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TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion advanced Toronto to the AL Division Series in the Blue Jays' familiar manner - with a big home run.

Encarnacion hit a three-run drive in the 11th inning off Ubaldo Jimenez , and Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in Tuesday night's AL wild card game to advance to a Division Series matchup against old foe Texas.

"It was a very special moment and a very special opportunity," Encarnacion said through a translator.

Jose Bautista also homered for the Blue Jays , who open the Division Series on Tuesday at Texas. Encarnacion's homer brought back memories of the tiebreaking, three-run shot that Bautista hit in the seventh inning of Game 5 of last year's AL Division Series win over the Rangers, a shot punctuated by a memorable bat flip.

And the Blue Jays won their last World Series title in 1993 on Joe Carter's walkoff home run .

"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," Encarnacion said through a translator.

Jimenez relieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th, and Devon Travis singled in a 1-1 pitch. Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson singled on the next pitch, and Travis went all the way to third as left fielder Nolan Reimold bobbled the ball.

Encarnacion sent the following pitch, a 91 mph offering, soaring into the second deck in left. Encarnacion immediately knew it was gone and raised both arms in triumph, index fingers pointed skyward.

The crowd of 49,934 chanted "Eddie, Eddie!" as Encarnacion circled the bases before being greeted by a mob of teammates. Encarnacion matched his career-best with 42 home runs in the regular season.

Jimenez said he was trying to throw a low slider and induce a double play.

"It didn't do anything," Jimenez said. "It stayed up."

Orioles closer Zach Britton, who was perfect in 47 save chances during the regular season, never got in the game.

"Nobody has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said . "It didn't work out."

Britton warmed up three times but didn't leave the bullpen.

"It's frustrating but it's not my call," Britton said. "It was just frustrating to have to sit there and watch."

Francisco Liriano retired five straight batters on four groundouts and a strikeout for the win after closer Roberto Osuna left with a sore shoulder .

"The doctor told me that I was going to be fine, I just need a couple of days," Osuna said. "I've been pitching a lot lately. They think it's just fatigue from the last couple of weeks."

Toronto beat Texas in five-game Division Series, sparked by Bautista's memorable homer. The teams brawled in May this year when Bautista was punched in the face by Rangers infielder Rougned Odor following a play at second base.

"It's going to be a very interesting series, and we're looking forward to it," Encarnacion said.

The roof was open at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, where all 24 previous postseason games had been played with it closed.

Bautista led off the second against Chris Tillman with his fifth postseason homer. Mark Trumbo, who led the major leagues with 47 home runs, gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman .

Ezequiel Carrera's RBI single chased Tillman in the fifth.

When Toronto pinch-hitter Melvin Upton Jr. flied out to the warning track in left field to end the seventh, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim was nearly struck by a can that was thrown from the stands. Center fielder Adam Jones angrily gestured toward the seats, and Showalter came out to register his displeasure with the umpires.

"It's tough when you have that many people in the ballpark and one person does something that reflects poorly on all of them," Showalter said. "It can happen in any ballpark. I don't like anything that puts our guys in harm's way.

Blue Jays fans tossed bottles and debris on the field during game 5 against Texas last year, upset at the call that let Odor score from third after catcher Russell Martin's throw back to the mound deflected off Shin Soo Choo's bat.

Jones wasn't as diplomatic as his manager.

"That is about as pathetic as it gets," he said. "I hope they find the guy and press charges."

FOR STARTERS:
Stroman allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, struck out six and walked none. Tillman gave up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings.

WEB GEM:
Kevin Pillar made a diving catch on Manny Machado's liner to right-center in the fourth .

EXTRA, EXTRA!:
This was the second extra-inning wild card game. Kansas City rallied to beat Oakland 9-8 in 12 innings in 2014.

ROBBIE:
Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who starred for the Blue Jays and Orioles, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Baseball Hall of Fame: Dusty Baker supports Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent

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AP

Baseball Hall of Fame: Dusty Baker supports Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent

The 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees will be announced Tuesday afternoon.

And while Mariano Rivera is a shoo-in to be honored in Cooperstown in July, the big question remains: Are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens worthy of the prestigious honors?

Well, this will always be a controversial subject, but what about from someone who watched Bonds' career first-hand? Say, his manager?

Dusty Baker witnessed the greatness of Bonds as his manager for a decade, and the two were both inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

But the big kahuna of Hall of Fames weighs over Bonds like a dark cloud. That dark cloud, of course, is Bonds' link to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

"Well you know something, everyone talks about the PED use," Baker told Christopher Russo on MLB Network's High Heat on Tuesday. "I was there and I don't know, and I don't think other people know either because when I was a kid I used to say you were innocent until proven guilty. Has Barry ever been proved guilty like any of these guys? Did some of the guys get through the cracks that were guilty? I'm sure, but I mean, you look at these numbers and Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time."

We can have the "did he, didn't he," debate until Bonds and Clemens fall off the ballot of eligibility or for years to come. It won't solve anything, but there is promise for the future for fans who hope to see Bonds get in.

There are glimmers of light shining through the "cracks" of the era that, like it or not, made people talk about baseball again. Voters are supporting Bonds and Clemens more than ever before, and the two may slowly be inching their way toward a plaque. 

Will it happen? At this moment, it appears unlikely. But there's always next year, and the year after that -- and the year after that. 

Our fingers remained crossed.

For five and a half years of Bonds' prestigious career, he shared a dugout with Jeff Kent, who also holds a place on the current ballot. But most of his supporters aren't as loud since, let's be honest, we as humans get too excited when a ball goes over the fence. But Kent's steady numbers at second base, traditionally a position bereft of offense, are still worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. 

Baker was asked about the five-time All-Star and he was very pro-Kent.

"Jeff's a good guy, Jeff didn't talk, but if you could get him to talk, he would burn your ear off," Baker said. "I'm hoping he and Barry get closer if not into the Hall of Fame."

Kent is a career .290 hitter, with 2,461 hits and 377 home runs across 17 seasons. In addition to those All-Star selections, Kent earned MVP honors in 2000 and four Silver Slugger Awards.

Whether those numbers are Hall of Fame-esque is not the issue at hand. It's whether the Hall recognizes Kent's all-around abilities as a player, and it's not looking that way.

Currently, as this blog is being written, Kent holds just 17.1 percent on the ballots that have been submitted with 75 percent needed to get inducted. And he has just a few chances left as well.

But the Bonds/Clemens numbers show it's possible.

"Everyone has something in their game -- Barry didn't have the strongest throwing arm, but he got rid of the ball quickly -- there are very few players, even in the Hall of Fame that are five-tool players."

Baker said he had just finished having a conversation with Hank Aaron earlier that morning, saying all anyone is talking about with Hall discussions is centered around guys with power.

"They don't talk about the intelligence of the game, [Kent's] baseball IQ, they don't talk about what a great defensive player he was, his throwing hand," Baker said.

But those talks need to happen.

[RELATED: Voters are supporting Bonds/Clemens]

"At some point in time, these guys got to get in the Hall of Fame or it's not the complete Hall of Fame."

Giants: What to watch for when Baseball Hall of Fame results announced

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USATSI

Giants: What to watch for when Baseball Hall of Fame results announced

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s no question about the end result for Barry Bonds when the 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame class is announced Tuesday afternoon.

The seven-time MVP has not gotten particularly close to induction in his previous six years on the ballot, and he won’t get in this year. 

Once again, the only thing that matters for the most prolific slugger in Major League history is a percentage. How much progress has Bonds made since 2018, when he inched forward to 56.4 percent? We’ll find out in a few hours. 

Bonds, according to a Hall of Fame tracker run by Ryan Thibodaux should see a bit more progress when results are announced on MLB Network at 3:15.

Thibodaux’s spectacularly detailed tracker has Bonds listed on 71.2 percent of the ballots that have been released to the public, but that accounts for just a little more than half of the overall vote, and Bonds traditionally has seen a dip on the final day. Voters who prefer to remain anonymous have always judged him more harshly than those who release their ballots through their employers or on Twitter. 

Bonds was first listed on the ballot in 2013, receiving 36.2 percent of the vote from an electorate that has judged Bonds and Roger Clemens harshly because of PED connections. He got into the forties in 2016 and made a big jump to 53.8 percent a year later when Bud Selig, who oversaw the steroid era, was inducted and many voters changed their minds. 

Bonds has also seen gains as younger writers have reached voting eligibility -- he is listed on seven of eight ballots already released by first-time voters -- but he’s running out of time. He gained just 2.6 percent last year and remains well short of the 75 percent needed for enshrinement.

Barring a huge jump today, Bonds should remain in a precarious position with just three years remaining on the ballot. 

This year’s class will be led by Mariano Rivera, who is listed on 100 percent of the ballots thus far and could become the first unanimous inductee. Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina are also trending towards induction, with Mussina the only real question mark. 

[RELATED: Voters are standing in support of Bonds]

Former Giant Jeff Kent, in his sixth year on the ballot, stands at just 16.8 percent at the moment, per Thibodaux. Omar Vizquel, another who wore orange and black, is currently at 37.6 percent.