The Toronto Blue Jays enjoy a raucous home-field advantage when Rogers Centre is packed and their fans smell victory.
Despite some recent blemishes, including an ugly scene during the seventh inning of last year’s ALDS Game 5, there’s no denying Blue Jays fans are loud and proud. Underline and bold “loud,” because a sellout crowd with the roof closed turns Rogers Centre into a reverberating noise machine.
That is part of the task facing the Rangers, who hope to stave off elimination in Game 3 at 6:38 p.m. Sunday.
Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez appreciates the Blue Jays’ fans “intensity.”
“They’re passionate,” he said. “It’s like my hometown in the Dominican, 10,000 people feels like it’s 100,000. It’s fun. If you take it in a good way, that’s motivation to come here and play the right way.”
Every opposing stadium is tough in the playoffs, Elvis Andrus said, but he acknowledged the decibels going up in Toronto.
“They get a little loud in here, we can hear them,” he said. “You find a way to not get distracted by that. We know they’re going to be loud.”
Thoughts for Liriano
Gomez, who considers Blue Jays pitcher Francisco Liriano a family friend, hoped to have dinner with him Saturday night, a day after Gomez’s line drive nailed Liriano on the back of the neck. Gomez said he slept better last night after Liriano told him he was OK. Liriano was diagnosed with a minor concussion.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister called Jays manager John Gibbons after Game 2 to check on Liriano. Banister knows Liriano well from when they both were in Pittsburgh. Banister said he saw the contact immediately and feared the worst.
“I have a pretty good relationship with him,” Banister said. “A tremendous human being. When I saw [Edwin] Encarnacion call for the training staff and coaches to come out, it’s extremely scary. Prayers for him at that point ... razor-thin situation from being tragic, in my opinion.”
Gomez, when asked if he’d buy dinner for Liriano, said “we’re both rich so it doesn’t matter.”
Hoping for delay
Rangers coach Bobby Jones is hoping to put off retirement until November. Jones, who will retire at the end of the season after 50 years in pro baseball, was sitting at his locker before Saturday’s workout fighting through a newspaper word search puzzle, a routine he’s used throughout the past 25 years.
Is he thinking about how Sunday could be it?
“No, not at all,” he said. “It’s not impossible. We just have to win tomorrow night and take our chances the next game.”
He doesn’t expect to get too emotional in his finale. Unless the season ends with a win.
“Hopefully, it’s after we win the World Series. Then I would get emotional,” he said.