TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first trip to the American League Championship Series since 1993, overcoming one of the most bizarre plays in playoff history, when Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer for a 6-3 victory Wednesday over the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the Division Series.
The Blue Jays became the third team to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games at home. They will play Kansas City in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night.
Bautista's homer capped an event-filled, 53-minute seventh inning that took a turn when Toronto catcher Russell Martin's throw back to the pitcher deflected off batter Shin-Soo Choo and allowed the tiebreaking to score.
"It's the most emotionally charged game that I've ever played," Bautista said.
The Blue Jays filed a protest after an umpire review ruled Rougned Odor was allowed to cross home plate. Toronto fans pelted the field with debris during the 18-minute delay.
The Rangers made three consecutive errors to start the bottom half of the inning, and Toronto rallied. Benches cleared twice as the Blue Jays batted.
Roberto Osuna got the final five outs for his first postseason save.
Osuna turned toward the outfield after striking out Wil Venable, looked to the sky and was mobbed by his teammates at the Rogers Centre.
After Edwin Encarnacion tied the score at 2-all with a second-deck drive off loser Cole Hamels in the sixth, Odor led off the seventh with a single and went to third on a sacrifice and groundout.
With Choo up, Martin's throw back to reliever Aaron Sanchez deflected off Choo and dribbled toward third base.
Home plate umpire Dale Scott initially ruled it a dead ball but, after Rangers manager Jeff Banister questioned the call, the umpires huddled and Odor was sent home.
"I just caught the ball and threw it back very casually and it hit his bat and then next thing you know run scores. It's never happened in my life before," Martin said.
Fans littered the field with objects during the delay as umpires sorted out a play that is certain to rank among the craziest in the postseason.
According to rule Major League Baseball rule 6.03(a)(3), the batter is not to be charged with interfering with the catcher if the batter is still in the batter's box and doesn't make a movement to block or disrupt the throw.
The upset Blue Jays filed a protest.
But Bautista took care of the need for any paperwork.