Texas Rangers

Rangers, Blue Jays Continue Volatile Rivalry in ALDS

Of course the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays are squaring off in the playoffs.

This is the match-up baseball fans wanted to see. Teams are not supposed to publicly declare their desire to play any opponent in a playoff series, but it's very likely that the Rangers and Blue Jays players are salivating at the opportunity to eliminate the other team.

This isn't Yankees-Red Sox or Cubs-Cardinals, but there might not be two teams in baseball that dislike each other more.

2015 ALDS

Here's where it all started. The first four games of last year's playoff series went relatively smoothly. After winning the first two games in Toronto, the Rangers dropped the next two in Arlington, setting the stage for a winner-take-all Game 5 in Toronto.

Getty Images
Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning of ALDS Game 5 against the Texas Rangers Oct. 14, 2015. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Game 5 was tight until a bizarre seventh inning when a throw from catcher Russell Martin back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez deflected off batter Shin-Soo Choo and rolled away, allowing Rougned Odor to score the go-ahead run from third base.

The Rangers led 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh before the Rangers committed three straight errors to start the inning. An RBI single by Josh Donaldson then tied the game at 3.

Jose Bautista stepped in against Rangers reliever Sam Dyson and hit a 3-run home run. Bautista, still at home plate, glared at Dyson and "flipped" his bat like not many bats had been flipped before. Dyson took exception and had a few words for Edwin Encarnacion, who was on deck at the time. Both benches and bullpens emptied.

"It's the most emotionally charged game that I've ever played," Bautista said.

Toronto held on to win the game and the series before being eliminated by the eventual World Series-winning Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.

But the Rangers didn't forget...

May 15, 2016

If Bautista's bat flip ignited a rivalry between the Rangers and Blue Jays, the teams' game May 15 threw gas onto the flame.

The Rangers won the final regular season game between the teams 7-6 that day, but more notable numbers from the game were eight (ejections) and one (punch and subsequent brawl).

Rangers' rookie reliever Matt Bush hit Bautista with a pitch in the eighth inning. Toronto manager John Gibbons later suggested the pitch was in retaliation of Bautista's bat flip.

"To me, it was gutless," he said. "The other 29 teams, they come at you right away, but to wait until the end, it just sort of tells you something. Everybody is going to say, 'Oh, it was a one-run game. The ball got away.' That ain't going to fly."

Two batters later, Bautista, possibly in retaliation against being hit, slid into Odor at second base to break up a double play. Odor apparently didn't like the hard slide — which had recently been made illegal by MLB — and punched Bautista, in what became one of the year's most famous moments.

"I was pretty surprised," Bautista said. "I mean, obviously, that's the only reason that he got me and he got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down."

Both teams' benches and bullpens rushed the field and a few more punches were thrown. Odor, Bautista, Gibbons the Rangers' Steve Buechele and Toronto's Josh Donaldson were ejected from the game.

Once play resumed, Toronto reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch. Fielder simply smiled and motioned for Chavez to leave the game. Chavez and Toronto bench coach Demarlo Hale were subsequently ejected.

Odor received an 8-game suspension and a $5,000 fine. Bautista and Andrus were also suspended for one game.

2016 ALDS

In the National Hockey League, teams rarely fight in the playoffs because they understand the importance of winning the series.

Things could get chippy between the Rangers and Blue Jays in this best-of-five series, but the players will likely put their tempers aside with their seasons on the line.

Either way, buckle up. It should be a fun series.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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