When you win the first two games of a five game series on the road, you have to expect that you're going to advance to the next series. Maybe not in a sweep, maybe not even in four games, but you have to think the odds are very much in your favor.
And when that series win doesn't come in Game 3 and it doesn't come in Game 4, in your home park, there might be a tendency to to start choking the life out of a baseball bat at the plate and doing things defensively that you simply don't do when things are free and easy.
Which brings us to Elvis Andrus and the bottom of the 7th inning in Game 5 Wednesday night.
With a 3-2 lead given to them by the baseball gods the Rangers defense took the field nine outs away from an ALCS date with the Kansas City Royals. Russell Martin led off the Blue Jay half of the 7th with a ground ball to Andrus at shortstop. It was a play that Andrus has probably made thousands of times in his career, but he didn't make it this time. Andrus booted the ball and gave the Rangers a start to their inning.
And it was about to get worse for Texas and their veteran shortstop.
Kevin Pillar, the next Blue Jays hitter, hit a ground ball to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland and Moreland, despite having the out at first, threw errantly to Andrus at short for the second Texas error in as many batters. Jays second baseman Ryan Goins, the 9th hitter in the Toronto lineup, then dropped a bunt to third baseman Adrian Beltre who fielded the ball and threw to third for the force.
But Andrus simply dropped the ball.
What went from runners on first and second and one out in the inning turned into a bases loaded and nobody out situation for Toronto.
Texas starter Cole Hamel got the next hitter to hit into a force play at the plate but Josh Donaldosn got a run in with a fielder's choice to second base to tie the game and Jose Bautista hit a ball off the facing of the upper deck for a home run that propelled the Jays to the ALCS.
To his credit, Andrus didn't shy away from the attention he no doubt didn't want.
“I was just trying to get the one out at third base,” he said. “The ball hit the end of my glove and came out. There’s no excuse for that. I have to make that play. This is the toughest time of my career right now. I can make that play 100 times, for sure. There’s a lot of pain right now. I let down my team and my city.”
Andrus was more upset by the error that started the chain of events.
“Everything just went down after the first error. Everything just changed,” Andrus said.
Andrus denied that the first error affected him on the play at third.
“No, you don’t think about it,” he said.
Maybe not right then, but Andrus and the Rangers will think of nothing but that 7th inning until they take field again next season.