Joey Bats wasn’t messing around against the Red Sox on Saturday.
We all know Jose Bautista is a good player. He’s a three-time All-Star, a two-time home run champ, and one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball. When he launches a couple of long balls, it isn’t all that shocking. In fact, it has become the norm.
That doesn’t mean his all-around effort against the Red Sox wasn’t still impressive.
Bautista essentially told everyone else, “Thanks for showing up.” He crushed two mammoth home runs, including a two-run, go-ahead shot in the eighth inning, and he cut down a potential Boston run with an absolute laser to home plate in the sixth inning. After the game, all the Red Sox could do was tip their caps.
“[He’s a] very good player. Obviously he’s capable of hitting balls out of the ballpark every time he steps in the box,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Bautista. “He gets a 2-0 cutter from [Felix] Doubront for the first solo home run and then as I mentioned on the split the other way from [Junichi] Tazawa.”
Bautista’s first home run of the game came in the sixth inning. The Blue Jays already had a 1-0 lead, and Bautista added to it with a moon shot to left field that cleared everything. It landed in the parking lot across the street, even dinging a few vehicles once it finally reentered the atmosphere.
The perennial MVP candidate wasn’t done showing off in that sixth inning, though. The Red Sox threatened to finally get on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame when Dustin Pedroia followed up a Shane Victorino double with a base hit into right field. Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield opted to send Victorino, at which point Bautista fired a missile to home plate on the fly. Victorino tried to jar the ball loose from catcher J.P. Arencibia, but — as Victorino admitted after the game — he was out by at least a step.
“We looked to put pressure on the defense in that situation [in the sixth inning],” Farrell said. “Bautista is ranging to his right, comes up and throws about a 260-foot strike to cut down Victorino. [He’s a] very good player.”
It felt in that sixth inning like Bautista had taken over the game. But once the Red Sox rallied to tie the score at two apiece in the seventh inning on a two-run single from Victorino, Bautista needed to go back to work. No big deal.
Bautista jumped on a 2-1 splitter from Tazawa in the eighth inning and drove it out of the yard to recapture the lead for Toronto. The ball landed near the light tower on top of the Green Monster in left-center field.
The multi-homer game was the 21st of Bautista’s career — and his fourth this season – and it also continued a trend of him raking at Fenway Park. Bautista’s 16 career dingers at Fenway are his most at any ballpark as a visitor.
Chances are high that you’ll see Bautista turn in another performance like Saturday’s before all is said and done. Watching a player leave his mark so emphatically is definitely something to marvel at, though.