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Jays' Bautista on his best behaviour in rout of Braves

May 19, 2017 4:02 AM
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Jays' Bautista on his best behaviour in rout of Braves

ATLANTA — There was no glaring from Jose Bautista on Thursday night and no bat flip, either.

Instead, of inciting the Braves as he had done the previous night, the Blue Jays slugger kept his head down and his emotions in check.

Such restraint was instrumental to acquire an early lead and a last-laugh 9-0 Jays win at SunTrust Park.

The result, in an what has been an emotionally charged week, salvaged one win from four meetings with the Braves, and a split of the two played here at the new Atlanta stadium.

It wasn’t as if the Braves didn’t try to get under Bautista’s skin — or at least bruise it — however.

Batting second in manager John Gibbons’ injury-ravaged order, Bautista came to the plate in the first inning to a chorus of boos from the Braves faithful still bothered by his home-run celebration the night before.

The first offering from Braves starter Julio Teheran was well inside. The next one plunked Bautista on the thigh. But rather than fire back, the Jays right-fielder trotted down to first without a sideways glance.

A Kendrys Morales single and Darrell Ceciliani double later and Bautista was home with the Jays’ first run of the game.

In his second at-bat, Bautista led off the third with a double and was driven in by Morales shortly after that and before you knew it, the Jays had jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

By the time the long, rain-delayed night was done, the Jays ended a frustrating three-game losing streak and were on their way to Baltimore for a significant weekend series.

“He did as a favour, Bautista,” Gibbons said. “One thing about Jose, I’ve never seen anybody like it. When he gets drilled or they throw behind him or something he always comes back to burn somebody.”

Not only did Marcus Stroman hit the first homer of his career in the fourth inning, he went opposite field to do so.

It was a pretty impressive effort from Stroman, who told us on Wednesday that he was determined to make an impact at the plate in his first start against an NL opponent this season.

Stroman’s homer was right on the heels of catcher Luke Maile, who opened the inning with a solo shot.

According to the Statcast measuring data, Stroman’s homer was a 370-foot effort and the ball left his bat at a speed of 99 mph.

With the blast, Stroman became just the second Jays pitcher to hit a home run. The first was Mark Hendrickson back in June of 2003 at Montreal.

The Jays starter also took care of business on the mound, holding the Braves scoreless through 5.2 innings, improving his record to 4-2.

The win/homer double had some historical context, as well. Since the DH was introduced in 1973, only nine American League pitchers have had a homer and a ‘W’ in the boxscore in the same game.

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The threat of payback was all over this one. The Jays had lost two games in Toronto and a third in Atlanta, each of the defeats ugly in their own way.

The Braves, meanwhile, might have had revenge on their mind for the Bautista bat flip, the Kevin Pillar homophobic slur and the seven hit batters over three games, including Freddie Freeman and his broken wrist.

And then there was Hall of Fame baseball columnist Peter Gammons, who tweeted earlier in the day that a source told him to expect Thursday to be fight night at the Braves’ new park.

There was certainly no evidence that the Teheran pitch that hit Bautista was merely one that got away. According to ESPN Stats, the 95.6 mph offering was the fastest the Braves starter has thrown in two years.

At any rate, home plate umpire Paul Emmel did what he probably should have prior to the game and warned both dugouts that further nastiness would result in an ejection.

“It was a tough day with what happened to Pillar and these guys have been laying a beating on us the last three games and Bautista last night,” a relieved Gibbons said.

The Jays just can’t stand prosperity of any stripe, apparently. It seemed to be going good for centre fielder Ceciliani, in for Pillar, when he blasted a Teheran offering over the wall for a two-run homer. Instead, just three steps into his home-run trot, however. he seemed to be favouring his left shoulder and exited the game. Sure enough, it was later announced that the utility outfielder had suffered a partial separation to his left shoulder and will be further evaluated on Friday. “It’s getting kind of comical,” Gibbons said of the latest injury ... Ceciliani’s injury created an opportunity for Dwight Smith Jr., to make his major-league debut. Smith went to left field while Ezequiel Carrera moved over to centre … Ceciliani’s homer was his first as a Jay and just the second of his career in the majors.

After giving up a combined 27 runs over the previous three games, the Jays returned to a strong defensive effort with the nine-inning shutout … Morales had hits in each of his first four trips to the plate — three singles and a double … With the injuries and Pillar suspension, it was certainly an interesting lineup Gibbons fielded on Thursday, especially since red-hot Justin Smoak was given the night off (Morales played first) and Devon Travis rested (Chris Coghlan) at second.

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Source: torontosun.com

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