* Jose Bautista visited the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon in Baltimore and held a piece of lumber used by Baltimore native son Babe Ruth. And on Sunday he made like The Babe himself hitting a decisive two-run homer to help the Blue Jays finished their six-game trip with four wins.
By Bob Elliott
BALTIMORE _ The Pace of Play committee won’t be using tapes of Sunday afternoon’s game as an illustration to other clubs.
That’s when Bautista stepped out of the batter’s box, a no-no under the new rules … but hitters are allowed step out with men on base. And there was a lot going on in the noggins of pitcher and hitter as Bautista had ducked out of the way of an O’Day pitch and the two had a history going back to 2013.
Bautista, who earlier in the day held Babe Ruth’s bat, stepped in and after an O’Day pick off attempt at first, and made like the Great Bambino. The Jays slugger hit the next pitch, a 79 MPH slider, for a two-run homer to left, allowing the Toronto Blue Jays to win the finale 10-7 in three hours and 17 minutes, a game that featured 15 runs in the first five innings.
“He’s hit me a few times, I got him a few times,” Bautista told reporters. “Then, he threw behind me. I figured he’d go off speed on me. If he threw a fastball I’d go back to the dugout. I sat on his slider.”
Bautista flipped the bat and circled the bases.
“This is the only pitcher I have a history with,” Bautista said. “Emotion of the moment. There’s history. He’s hit me a few times, thrown behind me a few times, and I’ve got him a few times.”
In 2013 O’Day struck out Bautista yelled at hime, the next day Bautista homered off him. Bautista is now 5-for-15 (.333) lifetime against O’Day with four homers and eight RBIs. He’s fanned five times, with three walks and twice he has been hit by the sidewinder.
“I didn’t hear what he said,” O’Day told reporters in the Orioles clubhouse, “I focus on myself, I threw a terrible pitch. I didn’t notice what he was doing.”
The Jays play their home opener Monday night against the Tampa Bay Ray after a successful 4-2 road trip, although before you turn cart wheels this is the 11th consecutive time the Jays have gone at least .500 when opening on the road.
After starter Drew Hutchison allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, the Jays bullpen — doubted and then maligned — slammed the door as Aaron Loup, Roberto Osuna, Brett Cecil and Miguel Castro worked a brilliant 4 2/3 scoreless.
The first four didn’t allow a runner. Castro allowed a walk and a base hit, but put up a zero and picked up his second save.
After going hitless in 12 at-bats at Yankee Stadium — with eight strikeouts — something he said he did not take lightly, Bautista was 4-for-10 with four RBIs in Baltimore.
Bautista has always been a student of the history. We recall in 2011 asking him where he ranked amongst the great Jays hitters.
He rhymed off numbers as if he’d been asked his phone number: George Bell hit 47 homers to win the 1987 MVP award, Carlos Delgado drove in 145 runs in 2003, John Olerud hit .363 to win the 1993 batting title, Robbie Alomar won 10 Gold Gloves and was headed to the Hall of Fame, and Shawn Green hit 45 doubles in 1999.
OK, numbers from Bell, Delgado and Olerud are well known, but how many doubles Green hit?
We looked it up as Yogi would say … Bautista, the history buff (“why wouldn’t I know the history of this franchise?” he asked) was right.
And so on Saturday afternoon he visited the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame with his father, Luis Americo, and his social media director Lance Laifer. They had wanted to visit the Babe Ruth Museum but it was closed for renovations.
“They brought over some of Babe Ruth exhibits,” said Bautista. “Every time I saw documentaries about him he was in a negative fashion, how he was a womanizer and how he drank a lot. It was nice, refreshing, to see him portrayed in a different light.”
Bautista held a Ruth bat (“probably the game’s greatest player,”) but said the thing he’ll take away was memories of a picture of Ruth with orphans in Tacoma, Wash. At age seven Ruth was sent by his parents to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a Baltimore reformatory and orphanage.
And on the subject of history, Bautista’s homer was his 204th as a Jay moving into third past Joe Carter behind Delgado (336) and Vernon Wells (223) on the all-time list. George Bell and Delgado will be at the Rogers Centre Monday night to present Bautista with his third Silver Slugger award.
There has always been a fascination between players and The Babe. We toured the Babe Ruth museum once with David Wells and he told us how he had a carving in his floor to ceiling room of Wells winding up to face The Babe with a 3-2 count and two out on the scoreboard.
And as for O’Day?
Well, that’s history too.
Until the Blue Jays and the Orioles hook up again April 21st in Toronto.