The legend of Josh Donaldson just grew by leaps and bounds. One hundred and eighty feet to be exact.
Donaldson, he of the wonky hip and banged up body, doubled Sunday to lead off the 10th inning of Game 3, before his buzzed-about dash from second-to-home – aided by Rougned Odor’s throwing error, no less – secured the Blue Jays a series sweep of the Rangers and berth in the AL Championship Series.
Following the dramatic play, here’s what the Blue Jays and Rangers had to say about the run, the reply, and Donaldson’s gritty performance, courtesy of Sportsnet, Canadian Press, and ASAP Sports.
Josh Donaldson, Game 3 hero: It was 3-2 and Russell was taking some pretty big swings. So I was expecting contact right there. I was able to get a pretty good secondary. I was at third base when the throw was being made. Once I saw him miss the pick, I felt like I had to take a chance right there, and fortunately for us I was able to make it.
Rougned Odor, Rangers second baseman: (Edwin Encarnacion) slid into the base. I just pulled the ball a little bit. There’s nothing I can do now. I tried to throw the ball good, but I just pulled it a little bit.
Russell Martin, Blue Jays catcher: I was looking at the play unfold. As soon as I saw the pick, or I saw him leave the bag early, and I saw the bobble and then I looked at Josh and he immediately took off. And when that happened, I kind of saw the footwork and Mitch Moreland is a lefty. He kind of had to reset himself, and kind of saw the play unfold and saw that he had a beat on it. So I was just hoping for kind of like an offline throw, and the throw’s a bit low, and Josh snuck in there and just a great offensive base running play.
Elvis Andrus, Rangers shortstop: It happened to me last year and it’s not about the errors, it’s about losing the game. A lot of people get caught up in, ‘Oh you made an error,’ but we didn’t lose the series on one play, we lose the series in three games.
Mitch Moreland, Rangers first baseman: I just tried to keep it in front of me, trying to get the out right there. I was just trying to keep it in front of me, at least give me a chance to knock it down, keep it right there where he didn’t advance.
Donaldson: What’s kind of crazy is – I played against Mitch Moreland for a long time and played against him in college as well. The guy has a great arm. So it wasn’t one of those situations where I was just wheeling around third to score, because I respect Mitch’s arm. And for me the deciding factor was once I saw the ball get away from him, I felt like I had to take a chance. And that situation in the game, if he ends up throwing me out, making a great play you kind of have to tip your cap to him. But I’m banking on the fact that I’m going to make it more times than not, and it ended up working out for us tonight.
John Gibbons, Blue Jays manager: You know, that game-ending play, that’s not a normal big-league type of ending to a game. You see it occasionally because good base running is involved, guys busting it, what have you, you put pressure on guys. But that’s kind of rare. A lot of times when things are going your way that’s the kind of thing that happens.
Jeff Banister, Rangers manager: We got the play we wanted, a double play ball. Good feed to Odor. Just looked like he might have pulled the throw a little bit. Mitch reached down to try to keep it in play, got away from him a little bit and was unable to recover and make a throw to home plate. And a heads-up play by Donaldson who continued to run and he was safe.
Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays shortstop: J.D. is a baseball player. He made a great baserunning play right there and luckily he was safe.
Andrus: I talked to Roogie already, it’s hard. It’s hard being in that situation. I talked to him after that play, I’m proud of him, that’s the best he can do. You want to keep everything under control. He did what he wanted to do, he tried to get the double play and get back to the dugout, but it didn’t happen. As long as you give 100 percent, and leave it all on the field, nothing bad with that.
Odor: It’s something I’m not going to forget, I’m just going to keep working hard, do my best in the offseason and come back strong.
Celebration on hold for replay
Banister: I could tell that Donaldson was safe at the plate but I was a little blocked out at the play at second base and couldn’t tell if there was any interference there at all. But wanted to make sure there was none. And hey, if there is, we’re still playing.
Martin: Anticlimactic is the word. You’re kind of just waiting. Celebrate, we think we won, and then they challenge the play and you’re like: Oh gosh, let’s not have a technicality kind of ruin this moment for us right here. And it didn’t, gratefully. But it was a little bit of a buzz kill at the time. You’re just like – because I didn’t see the slide at second base, I didn’t know if it was a good slide or what’s considered a good slide now, I don’t even know. But I was just happy that they ruled no interference and whatnot and we won the game.
Donaldson: You start going through the memories of how it’s affected you in the past. And you’re just – I looked at Eddie, I said, please tell me you had a good slide. If you don’t have a good slide this isn’t good. We are not cool right now if you did not have a good slide. (Laughter) But fortunately it was good. And Eddie had a good slide right there. And we were able to win the game.
Martin: No, we didn’t win yet, oh, yeah, we did, yeah.
Joaquin Benoit, Blue Jays reliever: We’ve got something for the dramatics, every game we play. … We try and give fans the best show we can.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers third baseman: We always find a weird way to lose the game. Credit to the Blue Jays. They beat us straight up. It’s tough. We didn’t expect to lose three in a row.
Gibbons: He’s banged up. He plays every day. But there’s a few of them out there as well. He’s mentioned to me a couple of times the last couple of years late in the season I’m riding him into the ground.
Donaldson: I want to say I’m not physically restricted.
Martin (to Donaldson): Just lie.
Donaldson: When you have 50,000 fans screaming it kind of numbs the pain a little bit. It gives you that little extra jolt of adrenaline. So I’m going to leave it at that. I don’t really want to be too specific about anything. But the fact of the matter is I want to be out there for my team and my teammates want me out there and I want to try to contribute in any way possible. And for the most part I’ve been able to do that.
Gibbons: I’ve said many times, I think Josh and Russ were the first two newcomers here of the group that’s in there. For one thing they brought some toughness to us. … They made a big difference, because you can have a ton of talent, but if you don’t have some toughness, some gamers and some guys that are really motivated every day to win, you know, you come up empty.