Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bautista Belts Bombers Again

Jose Bautista channeled his inner Reggie Jackson last night. Mr. October was famous for getting brushed back, dusting himself off, and then hitting a "take that" home run.

While Bautista didn't get decked, he took exception to a head high pitch from Yankees starter Ivan Nova, and got into a shouting match with the rookie. Both benches emptied, but nothing more came of it. That was until the 8th inning when Bautista, who had earlier hit his 39th home run off Nova, drilled his 40th off of David Robertson for a 3-2 Toronto Blue Jays win.

Bautista's season is one of mystery. This is a guy that never hit more than 16 home runs in a season. Now he's reached 40 faster (124 games) than other player in Blue Jays history and is 7 home runs short of George Bell's team record of 47.

Because of players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, and yes, Alex Rodriguez, every batter is under suspicion, especially those with a sudden spike in home run power. I would never accuse of player of taking PEDs and I don't believe that Bautista is; not with today's strict testing.

Bautista, who has six bombs against the Yankees this season, is not happy with the speculation and who can blame him.
“I haven’t heard it once,” Bautista responded evenly when asked for his reaction to the unfounded allegations. “Nobody’s said anything to me, and I don’t see why they should. Baseball has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you want to call them.”

“It’s not a secret and I didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Bautista said. “I keep saying it because it’s the truth. It’s as simple as getting [his swing] started earlier, and I’ve got Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne Murphy to thank for that.

“They kind of brought it to my attention and they worked with me extensively and it’s sort of the renaissance of my hitting. I owe it to them because without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Bautista said he doesn’t consider himself a power hitter – “I don’t aim over the fence” – but he sees no reason why he can’t continue to hit with the same authority in years to come.

“If I can remain consistent, I don’t see why not,” he said. “I think I’m still pretty young. I keep myself in shape and don’t abuse my body.”

Whether you believe him or not, Bautista does deserve the benefit of the doubt.

As for the Yankees, there weren't too many positives coming out of last night's game. One exception was the performance of Nova, whom Joe Girardi pulled after just 5.1 innings pitched and 73 pitches. He allowed the 2-run home run by Bautista that put the Jays up 2-1, but that came with some controversy.

Yuniel Escobar could/should/would have been the third out of the 3rd inning, but 1st base umpire Mark Wegner ruled Mark Teixeira had not kept his foot on the 1st base bag on shortstop Eduardo Nunez's throw. Bautista then made the Yankees pay.

Robinson Cano was right in the middle of the action as usual, doubling in the Yankees 1st run and then tying the game at two apiece when he walked and came home on Nick Swisher's single.

The Yankees struck out 15 times, 12 by starter Brandon Morrow, but none was more upsetting than a horrible called third strike on Curtis Granderson in the 9th inning.

Cano had led off the inning with a walk against closer Kevin Gregg and Jorge Posada followed with a deep fly that just missed leaving the park. That brought up Granderson who got punched out by home plate ump Jerry Meals, who finished a bad night with one more bad call. The strike three pitch was clearly out of the strike zone, in fact it was nearly in the right-handed hitter's batters box.

Meals, shouldn't have earned a post-game one, after also ejecting Escobar and Jays' manager Cito Gaston in the 5th inning.

The series continues tonight with Dustin Moseley facing Marc Rzepczynski (and no, I didn't spell that right the first time.)

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