All that got lost in the end, though, when the Blue Jays scored without benefit of a hit in the top of the 10th inning and completed their three-game sweep of the Rangers with a 5-4 victory on a cool Sunday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"An outstanding baseball game," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "To bad we had to come out on the bad end."
They did, and the Blue Jays swept their first three-game series in Arlington since 1985. They came in here having lost 16 of their last 19 games at The Ballpark.
"We played well today," shortstop Michael Young said. "We kept battling back and so did they. They just pushed one more across in the end. It would have been nice to get a couple more runs home early in the game."
Neither team distinguished itself hitting with runners in scoring position. The Rangers were 2-for-12 and the Blue Jays were 2-for-11. Both left 10 on base.
There was one huge difference. The Blue Jays had two sacrifice flies in big situations. The Rangers, who would have gladly settled for one in the 10th inning after a leadoff triple by Marlon Byrd, had none.
"We had our chances and didn't get it done," outfielder David Murphy said.
This might have been different had the Rangers had their full complement of relievers. But Eddie Guardado is on the disabled list, Kazuo Fukumori has been sent to Triple-A and Jamey Wright is nursing a strained oblique muscle. That left Franklyn German to pitch the seventh with the Rangers leading 4-3 and Dustin Nippert to pitch the 10th in a tie game.
Neither situation worked out.
"We're a little beaten up," Washington said. "We have to use [what] we have and they did the best they could. That's why we have all those guys out there -- to step up when necessary."
In both innings, the Blue Jays got the first two hitters on base and were able to push them home with the sacrifice bunt and the sacrifice fly. John McDonald led off the seventh with a single, Shannon Stewart walked, Aaron Hill bunted them over and Alex Rios hit the sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Nippert, with the score 4, started the 10th by walking Frank Thomas and Lyle Overbay. This time, Gregg Zaun bunted the runners over and Joe Inglett hit the sacrifice fly that gave the Blue Jays the lead.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons then called on B.J. Ryan, his seventh pitcher of the game, to close it out in bottom of the 10th. Ryan was making his first appearance in a Major League game since April 14, 2007, after being sidelined because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
Byrd welcomed him back by lining an 0-2 pitch into the left-center field gap and racing to third with a leadoff triple. The Rangers couldn't get him home.
The Blue Jays brought the infield in and Ryan got Murphy on a grounder to short and Milton Bradley on a popup to third. Gerald Laird followed with a sinking line drive to right that Rios speared on the run toward the foul line to end the game.
"A tough game," Kinsler said. "Both teams played well. We got a couple of big hits today but obviously we didn't get it done in the end."
Kinsler was 2-for-5 with an RBI single and he saved Feldman in the sixth with a tremendous diving stop to his right to start a crucial double play. Catalanotto was 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the sixth that gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead after he fell behind 0-2 in the count to Burnett. Feldman, in his first Major League start, allowed three runs in six innings.
But all of that was lost at the end.
"Feldman was outstanding," Washington said. "He hung in there and battled. We battled. Today we just got beat. We didn't lose it, we just got beat."