TORONTO – Two games into their first playoff appearance in 22 years, the Toronto Blue Jays have put themselves in a tight spot.
Backup infielder Hanser Alberto hit a go-ahead single in the 14th inning Friday, helping the Texas Rangers beat the Blue Jays 6-4 for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
"The task at hand is pretty simple," Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson said. "We have to win or we go home."
This isn't where the Blue Jays expected to be after a red-hot second half propelled them past the Yankees and secured their first division title since 1993.
"Our backs are against the wall," Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "It's not where you want to be but that's what we're faced with."
Mike Napoli hit a tying two-out single in the eighth inning for the underdog Rangers, who will try to sweep the Blue Jays at home in Game 3 Sunday.
Alberto, batting last and only in the lineup because star third baseman Adrian Beltre was out due to a strained back, made an error that led to Toronto's first two runs but redeemed himself with his big hit in extra innings.
Alberto, 22, said he grabbed teammate Delino DeShields Jr.'s bat for his hit. "I didn't even ask him for it," Alberto said. "Good wood, too, you know?"
LaTroy Hawkins, the 42-year-old reliever who says this will be his last season, retired the first two Texas batters in the 14th inning. Rougned Odor hit a two-out single, but he then was nearly thrown out after going too far around second on a single by Chris Gimenez, with the call confirmed by replay review.
"You wonder if 50,000 could be wrong," Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said. "I'm pretty sure I saw some daylight there."
That call proved pivotal when Alberto lined a single to center, sending Odor tumbling home.
"It's extremely special for him," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Really, a guy that has sat at the end of the bench for us, an extra player."