ARLINGTON, Texas - John Gibbons, his club staring into the abyss of a 0-2 series deficit, wasn't worried.
"They're confident," the Blue Jays' manager said a few hours before Sunday night's must-win Game 3. "All that's happened the last two games is they just beat us, they played a little bit better than we have. I've said this before, it's a different group in there. They don't rattle and they come to play and they think we can win three in a row."
Behind a brilliant outing by Marco Estrada and a three-run homer by Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays stayed alive in this ALDS with a 5-1 victory over the Rangers in front of 50,941, a sellout crowd that included former President George W. Bush.
Said Tulowitzki, "I think we were more patient in those big situations . . . [During the first two games], guys wanted to try to hit that home run. And today we put together good at-bats, walks, hitting the ball the other way, moving runners. We played just better baseball overall, so I think we learned from our mistakes, we corrected them, and hats off to the guys in our clubhouse, because the approach changed and we got a win because of it, and hopefully we can continue that these next two games.''
The Jays, who haven't lost three in a row since July 8-10, will send R.A. Dickey to the mound Monday afternoon against lefthander Derek Holland in hopes of forcing a deciding Game 5 Wednesday in Toronto.
Said Rangers manager Jeff Banister, "We knew it was going to be a tough series. By no stretch of the imagination did we think that this was going to be a ballclub that was going to do anything other than what they did tonight: show up ready to play.''
Estrada, who was 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA in the regular season, including 5-2, 2.59 the last two months, allowed one run and five hits in 61/3 innings Sunday night.
"He kept us off balance with his changeup,'' Banister said. "Sometimes you have to tip your hat to a guy who pitches well. We just didn't seem to be able to find the barrel off him.''
Said Estrada, "I wasn't really thinking about the situation. Obviously, I know we're down two, or we were . . . I just kept thinking, hey, the way you thought about pitching the entire year, why not keep doing the same thing, you know. Just don't think about being down 0-2, but you want to win. I want to win every single game, and that's basically the mentality I took in.''
The Blue Jays hit into four double plays to keep things close early, but Tulowitzki, hitless in his first 11 at-bats of the series, hit a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth to make it 5-0.
"Tulo needed that,'' Gibbons said. "He really did.''
"It was definitely huge,'' Tulowitzki said. "In the moment I was definitely pumped up. It gave us a little breathing room.''
Aaron Loup replaced Estrada with two on and one out in the seventh, and Rougned Odor's grounder made it 5-1. Mark Lowe struck out Robinson Chirinos looking at a nasty breaking pitch with a runner on third to end the inning, and the Rangers did not threaten again.
The Jays took their first lead of the series in the third. Dioner Navarro doubled, Kevin Pillar reached on an infield single and Ryan Goins hit into a 4-3 double play, with a run scoring. Tulowitzki walked with the bases loaded in the fourth to make it 2-0.
In the sixth, Josh Donaldson singled and hustled to third on Jose Bautista's single. Chi Chi Gonzalez came on to face Edwin Encarnacion, who fell behind 0-and-2 before drawing a 10-pitch walk to load the bases. Chris Colabello grounded into a 3-2-3 double play, but Tulowitzki ripped a hanging full-count slider to left for his first hit of the series, making it 5-0.