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In a game that will be best remembered for the man who didn't pitch in it, Edwin Encarnacion sent Toronto's fans home happy with his walk-off blast to beat Baltimore in extra innings.

November 07, 2016

This will forever be known as the Zach Britton Game despite the fact that he was not one of the 34 players who stepped onto the field. Instead, Orioles manager Buck Showalter used six different relievers—none of whom was his All-Star closer with the 0.54 ERA during the regular season—to try to preserve a tie on the road, preferring instead to save Britton until Baltimore had a lead to protect. That strategy worked for 10 innings, as Baltimore's relievers escaped dangerous situations by getting double-plays in the fifth and eighth innings. But in the 11th, Showalter turned to back-of-the-rotation starter Ubaldo Jimenez with one out and nobody on base; five pitches later, the game was over. Toronto's Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson singled, and Edwin Encarnacion crushed a flat Jimenez fastball into lunar orbit to send the Jays to the Division Series. If anything, this game may go down as the last shuddering gasp of a reflexive orthodoxy of bullpen management—one that other postseason managers, like Cleveland's Terry Francona, Chicago's Joe Maddon and Los Angeles' Dave Roberts, would shatter in the coming weeks.

JAFFE: Showalter's blunder costs O's as Jays win wild-card thriller


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