Watched a lot of the Blue Jays - Yankees game that included two homers by Jose Bautista and there is no denying that Bautista is the supreme power hitter in baseball this year. His pitch recognition is lightning quick, his approach is simple and he is just crushing the ball. Bautista accounted for all three Blue Jays' runs in a game the Blue Jays won 3-2.
The Fan has chronicled Bautista in the past, so there is really no need to go into the player's history. Suffice it to say that this is a combination of a player who was willing to break down his approach and listen to his batting coach and everything has really clicked. Bautista had never before hit over 16 homers and he now has 40. But that's not his only relevant number. He's also set a career high for walks and has a healthy On Base Percentage near .370 despite a weak .257 batting average. 51% of his hits this season have been for extra bases. He now has 95 runs batted in and his slugging percentage, as you could guess is approaching .600.
Right now, Jose Bautista is not a guy you want to throw a mistake to or he's going to make you pay. Against the Yankees' rookie starter, Ivan Nova, he got a rolling curve ball that stayed in the middle of the plate and punished it. That homer gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Except it should have been 1-1 if not for a horrible call at first base on the previous batter. Nunez, the Yankees' rookie shotstop ranged deep in the hole to fetch a grounder and used the carpet at the dome to get the throw to Teixeira. The throw was a bit wide and Teixeira had to stretch as far as he could and did. The replay clearly showed the the Yankees' first baseman kept his foot on the bag. But MLB hasn't yet smartened up to replay and the incorrect play stood. That run made all the difference in the final outcome of the game.
Before we get back to Bautista, let the Fan make a quick point here about umpires in the majors. The Fan has watched a lot of baseball over the years and the umpiring this year is the worst ever. EVER. The home plate umpire was simply awful on balls and strikes for both sides. The Blue Jays' shortstop got himself thrown out of the game because of the lousy calls and then in the ninth, Gregg got a big out after a base hit by Swisher on a hugely terrible third strike call on Granderson. The pitch had to be a foot outside if it was an inch. Look, just because the pitcher hits the target, which Gregg did on a pinpoint, that doesn't mean it is a strike. Come on! Terrible. Simply terrible.
Anyway, back to Bautista. The game was tied 2-2 after a Posada double plated Cano. Roberston, the Yankees' ace set-up guy, struck out the first guy he faced and then had to pitch to Bautista. The first pitch was a perfect fastball on the outside corner which is where you have to pitch to Bautista. Cervelli called for the same pitch. But Robertson's pitch missed badly and drifted over the plate. Bautista crushed it. Ballgame.
One little side not about the homer. Bautista got brushed back on a previous at bat and he wasn't happy about it. Well, that's part of the game and if he doesn't want that to happen, he's got to stop hitting homers. That's the deal. You hit a lot of homers, you're going to get brushed back. Baseball. Well, anyway, Bautista wasn't happy about it and a fracas was narrowly avoided. When Bautista hit his eigth inning homer, he was ver demonstrative and stared at the pitcher and then made an "in your face" kind of display at the plate. Hey, no problem. The Fan happens to think there should be more demonstrative stuff in baseball, not less. But stay tuned. Bautista is going to get drilled some time later in this series. Expect it. And there will probably be a fight because if Bautista gets mad at a brushback, what's he going to do when he is actually drilled? It will happen and then let the fun begin.
But in the meanwhile, Jose Bautista, who has persevered through a less than adequate career, has at the age of 30, arrived and he has arrived in a big way. He is approaching the league lead in RBIs and he's the major league champ at the big ding dong. He has found himself in Toronto and he is on top of the world.