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Sportsnet: Stroman’s childhood dream comes true with Game 2 start

Arden Zwelling, Sportsnet.ca | posted Friday, Oct 9th, 2015

When Marcus Stroman pitched for Duke University as the Friday night starter, the ace of the pitching staff, he followed a close game-day routine.

Get up at the same time; drink his coffee a certain way; go to the same sushi place around the corner for his pre-game meal. And then, once everything was in place, he’d take the mound at Jack Coombs Field and absolutely deal.

He was a different guy then. Younger, more raw, more naïve. He was still trying to strike everyone out, still trying to make batters look foolish. He’d yet to discover his two-seamer – a funky, contorted grip that he stumbled upon while playing around with a baseball in his condo one afternoon – which would unlock his true potential as a starter, and allow him to become an innings-eating, ground-balling, lineup-dominating pitcher at the front of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ rotation.

A lot has changed. But now, in the first Blue Jays post-season run in 22 years, Stroman has found his way back to starting on a Friday for his team, and he can hardly wait.

“This is definitely the biggest start of my career, hands down,” Stroman said on Thursday, looking forward to his Game 2 ALDS start against the Texas Rangers. “But I’m ready for it. This is why you play the game. I’m excited. I can’t wait to get out there. This is the stuff you dream about.”

Stroman’s been dreaming of it for a long time. Since he was a small Long Island kid who loved basketball but could play a mean second base as well. Since his strict-as-hell father was making him run windsprints after school before going home to consume the newspaper and test his reading comprehension. Since he turned down a $400,000 bonus offer from the Washington Nationals and went to Duke instead to study sociology and play ball.

It was there that he read the internet message boards that said the undersized pitcher the Blue Devils just recruited wouldn’t be able to line the fields at Jack Coombs Park. He printed out all that criticism and doubt, taping it to his wall and reading it over and over before he went to work out. It was there that Stroman developed what some would call an underdog complex and others would more accurately describe as an unyielding ambition.

No matter which side of that duality you fall on, it’s impossible to deny that Stroman is fuelled by the thoughts constantly swirling in his head that everyone in the stadium, everyone in the league, everyone in the world is doubting him – that we’re all saying he can’t do it. And when he steps on a mound, he lets all that frustration pour out.

“I feel like I do a good job of being able to bottle it up and use it when I need to. I’m a very emotional pitcher. I wear my heart on my sleeve – that’s how I’ve always been. I pitch with a lot of hate and anger and emotion in my heart,” Stroman said. “Yeah, hate. A lot of anger. A lot goes into it. I’m 5’8” – a lot of people doubt me. So that’s with me every single pitch on the mound.”

You get the sense he needs that perceived persecution to operate, and he really needed it for most of the last six months when he aggressively attacked a rehab schedule for the ACL surgery he underwent this March. It was as if the Blue Jays telling everyone he was done for the season was contrived, a master plan to motivate Stroman to work out two times a day, six days a week at his old stomping grounds – the same Jack Coombs Field they said he couldn’t line, while finishing off his degree simultaneously.

“I’m not scared to say it – I exhausted every opportunity and did everything in my power to get back to this team, I did – and it was not fun,” Stroman said. “I’ll never have to go through anything as hard as that in my life again.”

Now, he’s here, about to pitch a ballgame that has taken on quite a bit of added importance for the Blue Jays following their 5-3 loss in Game 1 of the series. Stroman will be tasked with outdueling Texas ace Cole Hamels, who has only powered the Rangers to wins in each of the last 10 games he’s started, no big deal.

Stroman certainly has the stuff to stand in with his Rangers counterpart. His two-seamer is nasty and generates all kinds of swing-and-miss or weak contact, which is why Stroman has used it more than 40 per cent of the time in his four starts since returning from surgery. He’ll also mix in a four-seamer that can hit 95, a wipe-out slider, a knifing cutter, a slow curveball and even a fading changeup that Stroman developed this season and comes in almost 10 mph slower than his hard stuff. When he mixes his six pitches and locates them on the edges of the strike zone Stroman can be as effective as anyone in the game, no matter how tall they are.

And then there’s the intensity he carries to the mound. It’s not unusual to see Stroman flexing his body in excitement and yelling to himself when the defence behind him turns a double play, and that’s just in the regular season, not in a playoff game like the one he’ll pitch in Friday – one that will come in front of a deliriously charged atmosphere and mean so much more.

“[Mark] Buehrle is always trying to get me to do less, but I’m always trying to tell him I need more to get me going,” Stroman said of his fellow Blue Jays starter. “I’m just excited, man. This is an unbelievable opportunity, especially where I came from this past year. I’m ecstatic just to be here, you know what I mean? I’m ready to go out there and compete and dominate.”

In a lot of ways, Friday afternoon could be Stroman’s moment. The game will reach a lot more eyeballs in the United States than any of his prior starts. While he’s well known in Toronto – a city he says he loves – he doesn’t register quite as strongly in the country that houses 29 of MLB’s 30 franchises. A dominant performance in what’s as close to a must-win game as you can get for the Blue Jays, could thrust Stroman into the consciousness of a lot of fans who haven’t become aware of him yet.

It’s been a long time coming from those days at Duke, having his coffee the same way and ordering the same sushi rolls. And of course it comes on a Friday.

“I love it, I love it,” Stroman repeated. “I’m playing in the playoffs. This is why you play the game. I couldn’t be more excited. I’m not nervous. I’m not even slightly nervous. I haven’t pitched in nine days, I’m excited to get out there and get on the mound and get going.”

Thanksgiving weekend need to know: What’s open/closed, events

Patricia D’Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Oct 9th, 2015


Pumpkins are sprouting from their patches, autumn leaves of red and gold are slowly falling to the ground, and there is a subtle chill in the air. ‘Tis the time for Thanksgiving!

Autumn colored maple leaves hanging on clothes line. GETTY IMAGES/Moncherie
Autumn colored maple leaves hanging on clothes line. GETTY IMAGES/Moncherie

As you make your weekend plans, be sure to check out the list below of what’s open and closed on holiday Monday. There’s also a partial subway closure to contend with on Saturday and Sunday.

What’s open and closed


  • Some grocery stores, but call your local store
  • Tourist attractions (Casa Loma, Ontario Science Centre, ROM, Ripley’s Aquarium, Toronto Zoo, CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Casa Loma, Fort York)
  • There are several city-run attractions open on Thanksgiving Monday, including the High Park Zoo and historic sites. Click here for a full list.
  • Movie theatres
  • Malls: Eaton Centre (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Vaughan Mills (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Bramalea City Centre (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Pacific Mall (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Toronto Premium Outlets (9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
  • TTC runs on holiday service
  • GO Transit operates on Sunday schedule
  • Some Wine Rack stores will be open

A closed on a storefront. GETTY IMAGES/huePhotography
A closed on a storefront. GETTY IMAGES/huePhotography


  • Banks
  • Government offices
  • Sherway Gardens
  • Fairview Mall
  • Beer Store locations
  • LCBO stores
  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Post offices and mail delivery
  • Toronto Public Library branches

TTC closure

Partial subway shutdown

Entrance to Bloor-Yonge subway station.
Entrance to Bloor-Yonge subway station.

If you’re a regular rider of Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), give yourself a little extra time to get around this weekend.

There will be no train service between St. George and Pape stations on Saturday and Sunday because of beam replacement on the Bloor Viaduct. Shuttle buses will be running.

Bloor-Yonge, Castle Frank and Broadview stations will be open for fare purchases and connecting routes, but Bay, Sherbourne and Chester stations will be closed.


Blue Jays fever
The Toronto Blue Jays continue their quest towards a third World Series. Game 3 of the American League Division Series moves to Texas on Saturday. Marco Estrada is set to start for the Jays. The game starts at 8 p.m., and fans can catch it on Sportsnet or Sportsnet 590 The Fan. Click here for the game schedule.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, second right reacts with teammates, after hitting a RBI single to defeat the Kansas City Royals during 11th inning AL baseball action in Toronto on July 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, second right reacts with teammates, after hitting a RBI single to defeat the Kansas City Royals during 11th inning AL baseball action in Toronto on July 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

PumpkinFest Toronto
If you love pumpkins as much as this writer does, then Downsview Park is the place for you this Thanksgiving long weekend. Festival-goers can test their pumpkin carving skills, eat some tasty pie, walk around a pumpkin patch, and pick up a pumpkin for Halloween. There’s also face painting, a costume contest, an antique car show and a baked goods sale. Admission and parking are free.

Pumpkin patch. GETTY IMAGES/Paul Keleher
Pumpkin patch. GETTY IMAGES/Paul Keleher

Toronto Zoo celebrates fall
It’s Thanksgiving too for the animals at the Toronto Zoo. This long weekend, children 12 and under are invited to join in a number of fall activities at the zoo, including bowling with gourds, crafts and more.

Thanksgiving at Casa Loma Thanksgiving
No time to cook a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast? No problem. On Sunday, Casa Loma is cooking uproasted turkey, confit garlic whipped potatoes, a selection of seafood and pasta, pumpkin pie, and many more delicious dishes. Admission to the castle is included with the cost of the meal: $55 per person; $45 for children 13 and under (reservations required). Those attending the meal event are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will be donated to Daily Bread.

Thanksgiving dinner on the table. GETTY IMAGES/Tetra Images
Thanksgiving dinner on the table. GETTY IMAGES/Tetra Images

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest + Rogers Hometown Hockey
Get your dirndl and lederhosen ready for a big party just west of Toronto. The largest Oktoberfest celebration in North America continues this weekend with a number of events celebrating the region’s German heritage.

Also on Sunday, Rogers Hometown Hockey stops in Kitchener for the first weekend of the NHL season.

Blue Jays feeling the effects of ‘epic’ fan support going into playoffs

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2015


First baseman Chris Colabello experiences Blue Jays fever every time he looks at his phone or steps out his door.

“It’s pretty epic,” he said.

Colabello, a platoon player who readily admits he’s nowhere near the top of the Jays’ star pecking order, says just getting a cup of coffee is an adventure these days.

“That’s a testament to how much this city loves their team and appreciates what we’ve done for them,” he said. “And we hope to continue it for them.”

“It’s a blessing,” added left-fielder Ben Revere.

Toronto’s wild ride this season will go up a gear Thursday when the Blue Jays host the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of their American League Division Series. It’s Toronto’s first visit to the post-season since winning a second-straight World Series in 1993 and interest is booming.

Toronto ace David Price will face Texas’ Yovani Gallardo in the series opener while Marcus Stroman, adding a new chapter to his remarkable comeback from spring training knee surgery, takes on Rangers marquee man Cole Hamels in Game 2 Friday.

The best-of-five series will then descend on Texas for the next two games, if necessary, with Game 5 in Toronto if needed.

A relaxed bunch of Jays met the media Tuesday before working out at the Rogers Centre to the diverse sounds of Miguel, Beck, Fetty Wap, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, the Zac Brown Band and Hardwell.

Promotions for Thursday’s game flashed on the giant scoreboard as the players held batting practice.

Earlier, manager John Gibbons leaned back in his chair as he chatted with reporters in his office.

“I feel good,” he said. “Nice and relaxed. I feel good about the way the year’s gone. And you know what I think we’ve got a real shot to advance in this thing.

“You never know (in) the playoffs. Everybody will tell you that … But I feel confident in the group. I know they feel confident. We’ve just got to go out and play it.”

The 53-year-old Gibbons, in his second go-round as Toronto manager, summed up the Jays’ formula for success.

“We score a lot of runs. That’s really what this team is,” he said. “But we started winning more when we started playing better defence – a couple of changes – and the bullpen improved.”

And he pointed to Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Price and Stroman as the kind of players who thrive on the big stage.

Every Jay is in the spotlight these days, with fans across the country following the team.

Colabello, who has 24,100 Twitter followers, estimates 20,000 of them came after joining Toronto this season.

Gibbons says he too feels the buzz.

“I get recognized probably a little bit more – maybe in a better way,” he said with a smile. “You can just feel the excitement, no doubt about that.”

His phone isn’t lighting up, however.

“My buddies might call. (It’s a) secure number,” he added with a grin.

Toronto (93-69) went 4-2 against Texas (88-74) this season. Toronto and Texas were 1-2 in scoring runs in the second half of the season when Toronto went 48-23 and Texas 46-28.

Both managers have only confirmed their starters for the first two games of the series. Gibbons said one of R.A. Dickey and Marco Estrada will pitch Game 3.

Stroman used social media to announce his Game 2 start.

“Tore my ACL, finished my degree from @DukeU, rehabbed my knee in 5 months, and now pitching in Game 2 of the #ALDS. Crazy excited!” he tweeted Tuesday.

Hamels threw a complete game Sunday in Texas’ regular-season finale, a 9-2 win over the Angels that clinched the AL West title.

The Rangers have won their past 10 games started by Hamels, who is 7-1 in 12 starts since being acquired from Philadelphia in late July.

The two Texas pitchers have fared differently against the Jays in a limited number of meetings

Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) won both of his starts this season against Toronto, pitching 13 2/3 scoreless innings. Toronto managed just six hits while batting 136 against him. Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA all-time against the Jays.

Hamels is 0-2 with a career 6.97 ERA in four starts against the Jays. On the plus side, his post-season ERA is 3.09 against all teams.

Gibbons said Dalton Pompey and Ezequiel Carrera will be on the post-season roster to add speed. The team will only carry two catchers in Russell Martin and Dioner Navarro.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, two games into his comeback from a cracked shoulder, says he is good to good despite some ongoing pain.

So the Jays 25-man roster is expected to be starters Price, Stroman, Estrada and Dickey with a seven-man bullpen made up of Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, Brett Cecil, Mark Lowe, LaTroy Hawkins, Liam Hendriks, and Aaron Loup. The position players are Martin, Navarro, Encarnacion, Ryan Goins, Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Cliff Pennington, Justin Smoak, Colabello, Revere, Kevin Pillar, Bautista, Pompey and Carrera.

GM Alex Anthopoulos, whose acquisitions at the trade deadline helped trigger the Jays’ second-half surge, says all he can do now is watch.

“I’m trying to tell myself ‘Look, you’re powerless. Try to enjoy it,’” he said. “I hope I can react that way and watch that way. But everybody tells me every pitch, every inning is just tough.

“I’m already stressed out of my mind as it is. I don’t know what it’s going to be like but I’m going to try to just sit back and watch and enjoy it.”

Gibbons, a San Antonio native, said he expects to sleep well the eve of the playoffs.

“I hope so,” he said. “I sleep pretty good once I get to sleep.”

The exhausted parent’s guide to the election

Kathryn Hayward | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2015


Your partner has to work late—again. You’ve managed to cobble together a reasonable facsimile of dinner, but the babyis crying in her high chair, your preschooler is feeding his broccoli to the dog and there’s a knock on the door. It’s one of your local candidates. Who has time to talk or read the pamphlets? Fear not: Here’s a crash course on the key issues so you can cram in time for voting day on October 19.


Child care

Child care has emerged as one of the main talking points in the election, as the parties have taken fairly different stances on this issue that’s near and dear to the 3.8 million families with children in Canada. Quality daycare is expensive—in Toronto, for instance, full-time infant care can run upwards of $1,600 per child a month. The NDP have thrown down the gauntlet with their $15-a-day plan.

CONSERVATIVES: Earlier this year, the Conservatives expanded the Universal Child Care Benefit. It now pays $160 per month for each child under the age of six and $60 per month for kids ages six to 17 (this money is taxable). They increased the Child Care Expenses Deduction under the Income Tax Act by $1,000. They have no plans for a national child care program (they say they don’t want to tell you how to spend your money).

LIBERALS: They would replace the Universal Child Care Benefit with a new Canada Child Tax Benefit that would give more money to families whose combined income is less than $150,000 (for example, a two-parent household with two kids and an income of $90,000 would receive $490 tax-free a month). While they have no explicit plans for a national child care program, they have proposed a 10-year, $20-billion social infrastructure fund that would include funding for daycare. There’s also a proposal to make parental leaves more flexible, allowing longer leaves (up to 18 months) at a lower pay level.

NDP: The New Democrats promise to create or maintain one million daycare spaces over the next eight years. The fees would be capped at $15 a day (so daycare would cost less than $350 a month). The plan would cost $1.9 billion, to be shared 60/40 between Ottawa and the provinces and territories. “Lots of parents would like affordable, accessible quality child care, and the lack of it means that women are often stuck making very tough decisions about their careers,” Thomas Mulcair told Today’s Parent. They would keep the Universal Child Care Benefit to help parents who don’t use daycare.

GREEN PARTY: They propose the creation of a universal child care program. The program would encourage incorporating child care at workplaces by adding a tax break for employers who offer daycare spaces. “Certainly, there is a lot of good empirical data that workplace productivity increases dramatically and quality time goes up when child care is in the same place where you go to work,” Green Party leader Elizabeth May told Today’s Parent. They support transferring more money to the provinces to increase the number of child care spaces available for at least 70 percent of children ages six and younger. They would also cancel the Universal Child Care Benefit.



What’s the best way to make the economy grow: government spending or tax cuts? The Liberals are taking a different tack from the Conservatives and NDP. One thing is certain: Money talks. The economy has been one of the most fiercely debated points in the campaign.

CONSERVATIVES: Their platform is largely about balancing the budget, and they’re bullish about the economy—if we stay the course. As Stephen Harper told Today’s Parent, “If we stay on the path that we’re on, there’s really not going to be a better place in the world to be than Canada for economic opportunity for young people.” They would keep current tax credits, like children’s fitness and public transit, and have promised to pass a “tax lock” law that prohibits increases to federal income tax, sales tax and discretionary payroll taxes for the next four years. Their income-splitting policy allows a higher-earning spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earning spouse, which can net a tax credit worth up to $2,000. They’ve pledged enhancements to registered education savings plans, which would double the federal grant for low- and middle-income families.

LIBERALS: The party wants to ease the burden of the middle class. They plan to place “more money in the pockets of parents who need it every month, with a tax break that we are going to pay for by having the wealthiest pay a little more in taxes,” Justin Trudeau told Today’s Parent. Specifically, they would lower the tax rate on income between $44,700 and $89,401 by 1.5 percent to 20.5 percent and raise it for individuals earning more than $200,000. They’re also willing to go into a deficit to help boost the economy by investing in infrastructure programs. They plan to eliminate income splitting—they say it favours two-parent households and disproportionately helps people who don’t need help nearly as much as others do.

NDP: Mulcair has said that the first NDP budget will be a balanced budget. They have promised to lower taxes for small businesses and raise corporate tax rates. As for income splitting, they would scrap it, choosing to invest that money in middle-class families instead.

GREEN PARTY: To address poverty and a widening income gap, the party would implement a Guaranteed Livable Income. They would replace several social security programs to establish a minimum income. In terms of the budget, May says, “It’s preferable, of course, to live within your means, but we are not ideologically wedded to always balancing the budget.” The party would also eliminate income splitting, reduce taxes for small businesses and raise the corporate tax rate. They also pledge to create a national pharmacare program and cover dental costs for low-income youth.



Overall police-reported crime has been falling for more than 20 years. In fact, in 2013, Statistics Canada reported that the country had experienced the lowest crime rate since 1969. It doesn’t mean, however, that we feel safer.

CONSERVATIVES: Over the years, the party has maintained a tough-on-crime approach. Firmly against the decriminalization of marijuana, they’ve pledged $4.5 million to crack down on grow ops and promised to launch a hotline for parents concerned about their kids using drugs. Their signature legislation, the controversial Bill C-51, which passed in June, increases the powers of the police and CSIS to conduct expanded surveillance, share information between different agencies and arrest without a warrant for suspected terrorist activities.

LIBERALS: The party supports mandatory minimum sentences for serious and violent offences. They are in favour of legalizing and regulating marijuana (arguing regulation makes it harder for kids to access it and takes profits away from organized crime). The party supported Bill C-51 but plans to implement greater oversight of security agencies.

NDP: The party has pledged to hire 2,500 more police officers across the country. They’ve called for an increase in restorative justice. As well, they’d strengthen rules for sentencing dangerous offenders. On the pot issue, they call for decriminalization but not full legalization.

GREEN PARTY: In their platform, the Greens argue it’s time to legalize the adult use of marijuana. In addition, they call for increased funding to safe-injection sites, treatment facilities and addict rehabilitation. They would like greater oversight of agencies involved in counterterrorism measures.



Canada has an abysmal record on the environment. In a recent report that compared 61 countries on their climate policies, renewable energy and efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions, we ranked very, very low—just ahead of Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

CONSERVATIVES: This spring, the party pledged to ambitiously cut emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (it’s a bold promise given that we haven’t been able to meet previous targets). They are strongly in favour of building gas pipelines to get oil from the tar sands to refineries and port. As well, they’d like to promote angling and hunting tourism and would work to improve the habitats of key species harvested by hunters and trappers.

LIBERALS: Trudeau has said he’ll work with the provinces to develop a national framework for putting a price on carbon. The party promises to invest $200 million to support innovation and clean technology in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture. They will increase protected marine and coastal areas by 10 percent over the next five years, and they promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. The party opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline but supports the Keystone XL pipeline.

NDP: The party plans to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and create a cap-and-trade system, which would put a market price on carbon (they wouldn’t, however, impose a system on provinces that already have a carbon strategy). They’d reinvest any money generated into green energy. While they support the Energy East pipeline from the oil sands to eastern Canada, the party opposes the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines. Mulcair has also vowed to strengthen laws to protect our lakes and rivers.

GREEN PARTY: The party wants to halt the use of fossil fuels by mid-century, including a rapid phase-out of coal-fired plants. They oppose all pipeline plans and would make all carbon fuels subject to a carbon fee. “If we approach addressing the climate problem aggressively, that’s a way to stimulate the economy and avoid a recession,” May toldToday’s Parent.

Read more:
Today’s Parent interviews Prime Minister Stephen Harper>
Today’s Parent interviews Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau>
Today’s Parent interviews NDP leader Thomas Mulcair>

Today’s Parent interviews Green Party leader Elizabeth May>

This or that? Figure out where you stand in this election

Maclean's | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015


A federal vote is around the corner. It’s decision time, Canada, and you’ll soon ask yourself: How will I vote? That’s a tough question, and there’s so much to consider. That’s why we’ve built our Policy Face-off Machine, which introduces you to some of the campaign’s biggest and most contentious issues.

What is a Policy Face-off Machine?

It’s an entertaining and educational tool, and a jumping-off point for your own conversations about the ideas that will decide the coming federal vote. The tool doesn’t offer any opinion about the merits of each idea and won’t offer advice about which political party deserves your support.

How does it work?

The Policy Face-off Machine pits two policies against each other at random, and you’re asked to choose which you prefer. The parties pitching the policies are not identified when you make your pick, but every party has the same number of policies in the machine. Sometimes, you’ll be forced to choose between two policies offered by the same party. That’s okay. It’s all part of the fun. When you have no opinion about both policies in front of you, simply hit the “pass” button and we’ll randomly generate a new face-off. Pick at least 20 policies and we’ll present you with some analysis of your choices. But you don’t have to stop there. The more you pick, the more refined your policy profile.

Try our Policy Face-Off Machine today. Make the tough choices now, so your toughest choice of all—whom to vote for on election day—will be a little bit easier.

Click HERE to try it out.

Rangers beat Jays 5-3 in Game 1 of ALDS

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 8th, 2015


Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor homered off ace David Price as the Texas Rangers defeated the Blue Jays 5-3 in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, spoiling the Blue Jays’ long-awaited return to the post-season.

A sellout crowd of 43,894, waving rally towels, lived and died with every pitch under the roof at the Rogers Centre, which last saw playoff action in 1993 when the Jays won a second straight World Series.

The underdog Rangers struck from an unlikely source. The bottom of the Texas order took its toll on Price, who was inconsistent pitching on 11 days rest.

Odor, a 21-year-old from Venezuela who bats eighth before Chirinos, is the second-youngest player to score three runs in a post-season game, according to ESPN Stats. Only Andruw Jones in the 1996 World Series was younger.

Both teams lost key players during the game, with Jays’ MVP candidate Josh Donaldson and right-fielder Jose Bautista and Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre leaving early with injuries.

Toronto said Donaldson, dinged in the head breaking up a double play, had cleared the concussion protocol and would be evaluated Friday. Bautista was said to have a hamstring cramp and is not expected to miss any more action.

Bautista homered deep to left-centre off reliever Keone Kela to open the bottom of the sixth, cutting the Texas lead to 4-3. The Jays slugger paused to admire his first-ever post-season blast then trotted around the bases.

One hitter later, Edwin Encarnacion almost repeated the feat but his blast went just foul.

Odor’s line-drive homer to right in the seventh made it 5-3, hushing the crowd after Bautista’s homer.

Price, who gave way to Brett Cecil after seven innings, gave up five earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He threw 90 pitches, 59 for strikes.

Price, who did not hit a batter as a Jay during the regular season, hit Odor twice in five innings — a Toronto playoff record. Both times the Texas second baseman came home to score.

For all his regular-season exploits, Price is 1-6 in the playoffs.

Hard-throwing Sam Dyson pitched the ninth for Texas, hitting 98 m.p.h. Encarnacion opened with a single but the Jays came up short.

Texas only won two of six games with Toronto this season and Yovani Gallardo was on the mound for both. He started strongly Thursday, retiring the first nine Jays he faced before exiting after five innings with a 4-2 lead.

Donaldson did not bat in the fifth after being hurt in the fourth. Toronto said Donaldson, who kept a Jays rally alive by sacrificing his body, was pulled as a precaution.

Beltre, injured sliding into second base in the first inning, left after the third with what was called lower back stiffness.

Bautista did not come out for the ninth, and TV showed a trainer leading him out of the dugout back to the clubhouse.

Price walked two batters in the first inning but escaped with a double play. The big man settled down in the second inning, striking out the side.

A hit batter came back to haunt Price in the third after a groundout and RBI single by Delino DeShields brought Odor home. DeShields advanced on a groundout and scored on a Beltre single to make it 2-0.

Beltre pulled up running to first base and did not reappear, replaced by Hanser Alberto. The injury would carry a price for the Rangers.

Gallardo was perfect in his first three innings, extending his scoreless streak against Toronto to 16 2/3 innings this season.

Toronto’s Ben Revere singled to open the fourth to get the crowd going. Donaldson walked and Bautista worked a 3-2 count then grounded out to third. Donaldson broke up the double play at second, losing his batting helmet and grimacing as he got up.

That kept the inning alive and Alberto was unable to bare-hand Encarnacion’s slow grounder, allowing Revere to score from third to cut the lead to 2-1. That ended Gallardo’s scoreless streak against the Jays this season at 16 2/3 innings.

Price hit Odor again to open the fifth and Chirinos dropped a ball just over the left-centre fence to up the lead to 4-1. He had 10 homers during the regular season.

A Russell Martin double and Kevin Pillar single made it 4-2.

The contest featured a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in baseball since the all-star break (405 runs for Toronto, 381 for Texas). Toronto went 40-18 and Texas 38-22 since the start of August.

While Toronto (93-69) was making its return to the post-season after more than two decades, Texas (88-74) has made it four of the last six years. Still the Rangers’ ride this season is noteworthy, given they were last in the American League last year at 67-95 and they opened this season at 7-14.

“They counted us out in April but today we start the post-season,” the Rangers tweeted prior to Thursday’s game with their signature NeverEverQuit hashtag.

There was plenty of pre-game hoopla, with the “2015 AL East Champs” pennant unfurled high in the rafters.

Cito Gaston, who managed the Jays to back-to-back World Series the last time Toronto was in the playoffs, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. And there was another tie to the glory days with the Canadian anthem — a recording of the late Michael Burgess from the 1992 World Series played as members of the military manned a giant Canadian flag in the outfield.

The roof remained closed, however, despite 15 degree temperatures on a pleasant fall afternoon that came with a 20 per cent chance of precipitation. Major League Baseball decides the roof status in the post-season.

The Jays bandwagon is stretching far and wide.

The Royal Ontario Museum bathed a dinosaur skeleton in blue. Ottawa city hall raised a Jays flag, as did Canada’s embassy in Washington, D.C. The Vancouver Canucks, Curling Canada and Hockey Canada were among those sending best wishes.

“It’s been unreal. The love that we’ve been getting from Toronto, from all of Canada has been unbelievable,” Game 2 pitcher Marcus Stroman said. “I feel like we feed off that energy that the country brings us. And we’re excited to get out there and kind of put the country on our back, and play for an entire nation.”

In Price we trust: Blue Jays play first post-season game in 22 years

News staff and The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 8th, 2015


Let’s play ball! The first post-season baseball game in 22 years will be played at the Rogers Centre on Thursday afternoon when the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Texas Rangers.

Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers gets underway at 3:37 p.m. The gates to Rogers Centre – the closest thing to heaven at the moment – will open at 1:30 p.m.

It’s Toronto’s first visit to the post-season since winning a second-straight World Series in 1993 and interest is booming.

David Price will face Texas’ Yovani Gallardo in the series opener while Marcus Stroman takes on Rangers marquee man Cole Hamels in Game 2 on Friday.

Meanwhile, offices will be empty and Nathan Phillips Square will packed Thursday afternoon, as Toronto rallies behind the American League East Champion.

The city will broadcast all of the upcoming playoff games on a large screen on the stage in Nathan Phillips Square, being referred to as the #BirdsNest on Twitter.

“It’s an exciting time for Toronto. Let’s come together and cheer on our Blue Jays at Nathan Phillips Square,” Mayor John Tory said in a release. “See you in the #BirdsNest!”

The games will also be broadcast on Sportsnet and at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Earlier this week, Tory along with members of city council and ACE, the Blue Jays’ mascot, raised the Blue Jays flag at City Hall.

The AL Championship banners are already up around Rogers Centre. And inside the ballpark, space has been made for the banner to be added this afternoon. It will be unfurled during a ceremony at about 3 p.m. Cito Gaston has reportedly been pegged to toss the first pitch of this afternoon’s game.

And, the weather might just might allow for the opening of the stadium’s retractable roof for Game 1. The forecast calls for increasing cloud for the afternoon and a high of 16 C.

“I’d certainly say there is a chance given what I’ve seen from the weather (forecast),” said Stephen R. Brooks, the Blue Jays’ senior vice-president of business operations.

“Obviously the league ultimately will make that call in terms of their control of the post-season in discussions with us. If we’re in the mid-teen range, that is admittedly pushing the limits a little bit of the mechanics of the roof.

The second home game will take place around 12:45 p.m. on Friday. The best-of-five series will then descend on Texas for the next two games, if necessary, with Game 5 in Toronto if needed.

With files from The Canadian Press

Canadian Arthur B. McDonald shares Nobel Prize in physics

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2015


STOCKHOLM – Canada’s Arthur McDonald and Takaaki Kajita of Japan have won the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the two researchers had made key contributions to experiments showing that neutrinos change identities.

“The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe,” the academy said.

Kajita is director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and professor at the University of Tokyo.

McDonald is a professor emeritus at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

The winners will split about $960,000 in prize money.

Each winner also gets a diploma and a gold medal at the prize ceremony on Dec. 10.

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