ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Beltre returned to the Texas lineup despite a bad back.
Derek Holland didn’t give the slugging third baseman much of a chance to help the Rangers avoid a trip back to Toronto for a deciding Game 5 in AL Division Series.
Holland gave up three home runs to the first eight batters Monday, and the Blue Jays used 2012 Cy Young winners R.A. Dickey and David Price in an 8-4 victory in Game 4. After winning the first two games in Toronto, now the Rangers need to do it again to advance.
“I was ready. Game plan was there,” Holland said of his first postseason start since 8 1-3 scoreless innings against St. Louis in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series. “When you live up in the zone, that’s the worst. Those guys are going to hit it.”
Josh Donaldson and Chris Colabello hit home runs before Dickey, the 40-year-old knuckleballer, threw his first postseason pitch, and the Blue Jays won both games in Texas in a span of 24 hours.
Game 5 is Wednesday. Cole Hamels starts for the Rangers against Marcus Stroman in a rematch from Game 2, which Texas won in 14 innings.
“Win that ballgame. Simple as that,” Beltre said. “I think whoever does things right that day is going to win. And you hope it’s us.”
Beltre, who hadn’t played since exiting early from the series opener because of lower back stiffness, was a late addition to the Rangers’ starting lineup.
Beltre had two singles and a deep flyout, but the 36-year-old clearly was still having issues after injuring his back sliding into second base Thursday. He moved gingerly going to first base after both hits, and did the same when advancing to second base on the wild pitch that allowed Shin-Soo Choo to score in the third inning.
As for whether the back can hold up enough for the deciding game, “I’ll let you know when I wake up tomorrow,” he said.
Dickey was disappointed when he saw manager John Gibbons walking toward the mound when he was one out shy of qualifying for a win in the fifth inning, but he also knew he was handing off to Price.
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit,” Dickey said. “We’re going back to Toronto with a chance.”
Toronto led 3-0 in the first after a two-run homer from Donaldson and a solo shot by Colabello. Kevin Pillar connected against Holland leading off the second for a 4-0 lead. Pillar’s drive was caught by Price, who was playing catch in the bullpen with Stroman.
“Our mindset the whole time has been you’ve got to win three games, however you do it, when you do it,” said Pillar, who also had a pair of RBI singles. “But it’s definitely nice knowing flying home we’ve got another game.”
Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young winner when he won 20 games for the New York Mets, allowed one run over 4 2-3 innings and was pulled with a 7-1 lead, with a runner on base. Shin-Soo Choo, already with two hits, was coming to the plate.
“It was hard for me to do, but I thought that was the best way to win the game, keep them from coming back,” Gibbons said. “Probably not a relationship-building move, but a team win, that’s what I was looking for.”
Price needed only one pitch to retire Choo to end the fifth, and went three innings to get the win after losing in the series opener.
Only two teams in MLB history have lost a best-of-five series after winning the first two games on the road — Oakland against the New York Yankees in 2001, and Cincinnati to San Francisco in 2012.
The Blue Jays, in the playoffs for the first time since their 1993 World Series championship, have won nine of their last 10 postseason road games. Texas dropped to 1-9 in division series games at home.
Dickey gave up five hits with three strikeouts and no walks. The Rangers got three runs off Price, who was gone after a two-out RBI single by Elvis Andrus in the eighth that made it 8-4.
Hamels and Stroman will pitch on regular rest. The Rangers have won the last 11 games started by Hamels, who they added in July in a trade from Philadelphia. Stroman was tossing in the bullpen with Price early in Game 4.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?
On the way to their first World Series in 2010, the Rangers won the first two games of the ALDS at Tampa Bay, then lost Games 3 and 4 at home before winning the deciding fifth game against the Rays on the road.
“We did it in 2010, so why not 2015?” Andrus said. “We’re going to do what we’re supposed to do. And that’s the key for us, score early and let Cole do the rest.”