TORONTO — As veteran outfielder George Springer fell, so did the Toronto Blue Jays.
Springer was carted off the field in the eighth inning of Toronto’s dramatic 10-9 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night as Seattle won the best-of-three American League wild-card series in two games.
Springer was injured when tracking down a potential fly ball from Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford as Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette raced out of the infield to catch the same hit. They clipped each other in shallow centre field and the ball fell to the ground for a double, allowing the Mariners to tie the game 9-9.
“I haven’t even had a chance to look at it on video yet, but I think it was Bo’s elbow to George’s shoulder or head area,” said interim Toronto manager John Schneider. “I’m not quite sure. At that point you’re still trying to navigate through the rest of the game.”
Both Bichette and Springer lay prone on the field in obvious pain after the collision as the sell out crowd of 47,156 at Rogers Centre fell silent. Bichette eventually got up but Springer, visibly shaken, stayed down.
“I was praying to the baseball gods to just let that ball sit and running to first base,” said Crawford on his view of the collision. “If I saw the ball go to the side and I had to haul my butt to second base.”
Teammates checked on Springer as the Blue Jays training staff came out to him. Springer was helped to his feet by medical personnel and sat on a cart to be taken off the field to a rousing ovation from fans.
Jackie Bradley Jr. took over for Springer in centre field but the Mariners completed the largest road comeback in Major League Baseball playoff history.
Schneider said after the game that Springer was OK but would require further evaluation in the coming days as he was also nursing a sore right elbow for most of the season.
“He said some nice things to his teammates just now, so we’ll know more in the next couple of days,” said Schneider after a team meeting in the Blue Jays clubhouse.
Springer did not speak with media after the game.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said that Crawford’s hit was a turning point in the game but wished Springer well after the scary injury.
“We got a big break tonight when that ball fell in front of Springer,” said Servais. “I hope he’s OK. George is a great player. Seen him for years in Houston and competed against him.”