We all remember what started it.
It was a mid-October playoff game north of the border in game five of the 2015 American League Division Series. Texas held a slim 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning in the deciding contest.
The series shouldn’t have even been tied. The Rangers have already blown a 2-0 series lead and given away two home games.
In this game, the only reason the Rangers have a lead was a one-in-a-million play in the top of the frame that saw a return throw from Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin unintentionally clip Shin Soo Choo’s bat, roll into foul territory, and allow Delino Deshields to score.
Toronto didn’t take it well, to say the least. Manager John Gibbons was nearly ejected arguing the call after the run was upheld, and fans pelted garbage onto the field in disgust.
In an unforgettable turn of events in the bottom of the frame, Texas recorded a whopping three errors and another misplay allowed the Blue Jays to tie the game.
Jose Bautista came to the plate with two on and two out. You know what happened next on Ranger reliever Sam Dyson’s 97 mile-per-hour 1-1 fastball.
The bat flip heard ‘round the world was the true culmination of the modern Rangers-Blue Jays rivalry, but it’s far from the only hostility between the two teams.
Seventh months later, Texas’ Rougned Odor took exception to a Bautista slide with questionable intent, and, well, the rest is history.
Unfortunately for Rangers fans, that moment was the only time Texas seemed to come out on top in tufts between the two. Toronto won the AL Wild Card that year and swept a 95-win Texas team in the ALDS that October.
Since Josh Donaldson scored the go-ahead run in game five of the 2016 series, the animosity between the two has cooled immensely.
Toronto lost in the American League Championship series both years after topping Texas. The Rangers haven’t returned to the playoffs since. Neither has finished above .500 since 2016, and the two have combined for a .453 winning percentage since then.
Gone are major players in the series, most notably, the focal point of the rivalry- at least in Ranger fan’s eyes- Jose Bautista. Key role players like Donaldson, Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Pillar, and Roberto Osuna are also gone.
The same could be said for Texas. Adrian Beltre retired last November. Cole Hamels was traded in July 2018. Key contributors Carlos Gomez, Mitch Moreland and Derek Holland are also no longer with the team.
For the most part, the rivalry left with them. The two have played four uneventful regular season series since then with no major incidents.
One can’t recall the 2015 series at least without the thought of Elvis Andrus and Odor’s defensive miscues. And as the two start the last series ever at Globe Life Park Friday night, mere relics of what once was a burgeoning rivalry remain.
Even so, the memories of two painful Octobers likely won’t leave the minds of Ranger fans any time soon.
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