In terms of Jose Bautista’s mostly illustrious 10-season tenure in Toronto, the Fat Lady has probably warbled her last.
In the ninth inning of Toronto’s meaningless 9-5 victory over the hated New York Yankees Sunday, Bautista was pulled from the outfield and serenaded with “Jose, Jose” in what was likely his last home game as a Blue Jay.
Acquired in 2008 from Pittsburgh, Bautista was a journeyman 3B/OF whose game was revitalized in a Blue Jays uniform, nearly from the get-go.
In 441 games with other teams in the NL and AL (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Pittsburgh) he hit just 43 homers and drove in 161. In 1,229 contests with Toronto (and counting), he smacked 287 homers and drove in 763, winning the Hank Aaron award in back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011.
If this was indeed his last season — he was on a one-year contract with an option for 2018 — Joey Bats has given Toronto some not-soon-to-be-forgotten memorable moments.
Here are 10 we consider worth remembering.
10. Jays Acquire Bautista From Pittsburgh – Aug. 21, 2008
In 2008, the Jays were in the midst of another also-ran season and would struggle to finish fourth in the AL East with a record of 86-76. They did zip at the trade deadline but in late August, they swung a deal with Pittsburgh that would have lasting implications. Bautista, who lost the starting third baseman job with the Pirates, was performing well in the minors when the Pirates off-loaded him to Toronto, for a player to be named later. That player would be never-will-be catcher Robinson Diaz, who would go on to play just 43 big league games with Pittsburgh. Bautista’s start with the veteran-laden Jays wasn’t the stuff of lore, however, it wouldn’t be long before he made an impact. He said it all in his first day with the Jays, about his up-and-down stint in Pittsburgh, “For some reason, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.” And how.
9. First Homer As A Jay In Four-Hit Game – Sept. 2, 2008
In what would later become a very common occurence, Bautista hit his first big fly in a Blue Jays uniform against visiting Minnesota on Sept. 2, 2008. Batting second as the designated hitter (Alex Rios was the starting right fielder then and Scott Rolen was at third), Bautista enjoyed a banner day, collecting four hits and driving in two runs in five at-bats. He hit his first Blue Jays homer off Twins’ starter Glen Perkins, a two-run shot in the fifth. It was his 13th homer that season, which coincidentally included a homer against Toronto in an interleague game won 6-3 by Pittsburgh on June 21. He would hit his 14th of the season against Boston and his 15th against Baltimore (a team he really likes to hit against) to cap the remainder of his 2008 campaign.
8. Ties Team Record For Home Runs In A Month – May 31, 2010
In September/October of 2009, Jose Bautista gaves Jays’ fans a glimpse into a brighter future, capping a 10-homer month with a solo homer in a season-ending 5-4 loss to Baltimore. The Jays finished fourth again in the AL East that season at 75-87, 28 games out of first. Bautista, though, would remain red hot right into the early part of a better 2010 campaign for him and the Jays. May of 2010 was a torrid month for Bautista and the Jays, as the new-found slugger smacked a team record tying 12 homers as the team went 19-10. On May 30 of the month, Bautista victimized Baltimore for his 12th of the month and his big league leading 16th homer of the season in a 6-1 win. Over the years, Joey Bats has hit 30 of his 330 dingers off Baltimore pitchers, which is third highest among active players.
7. Two-Homer Game Againts Yankees Gives Him Personal Best 18 – June 4, 2010
It was a season of very high highs, for Bautista in 2010. Following his blazing hot month of May, Bautista was stuck on 16 homers — tying his season best — entering a game on June 4 against another of his favorite clubs to hit against, the New York Yankees. The Yanks had former Jay A.J. Burnett on the hill in Toronto in the first game of a three-game set. Bautista wasted no time eclipsing his personal best homers in a season, drilling his 17th of the young campaign off Burnett in the bottom of the second. He the pounded his second of the game in his next at bat, a two-run shot that would turn out to be the difference in a convincing 6-1 victory. Bautista finished three-for-three with three RBI (for 44 on the year).
6. Jose Hits 50th Of The Season – Sept. 23, 2010
Hitting 40 probably never entered Bautista’s mind during that electric 2010 season, never mind 50. He reached 40 in dramatic fashion in controversy filled day in late August, pounding two in a 3-2 win against the Yankees. That game was preceded by a pundit opining if Jose was on PEDs, and then reached a fever pitch when New York starter Ivan Nova threw some chin music at him after a two-run homer in a previous at bat. The teams cleared the benches but didn’t scrap and Bautista later hammered a solo shot off David Robertson that had him glaring at the mound and taking his time circling the bases. About a month later, Seattle paid a visit to the SkyDome. Bautista, who had 49 homers, blasted a solo shot off the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez in the bottom of the first, and that run held up in a 1-0 victory. In the process, Jose became just the 26th player in major league history to reach the 50-homer plateau (and first Blue Jay). His 54 homers led all big leaguers and garnered his first of two Hank Aaron awards.
5. First And Only Career Three-Homer Game – May 15, 2011
The 2011 season was another watershed one for Bautista, who would hit 43 homers to lead all major leaguers in that department and prove that 2010 was no fluke job. In mid-May the Minnesota Twins paid a visit to Toronto for a three-game series. Bautista was on fire in the first two games, collecting four hits in nine at bats, including two homers and three RBI as the Jays won both. The Jays, and Bautista, didn’t take their foot off the gas in the finale, smoking the hapless Twins 11-3. Jose got his groove going in the fourth off Twins’ starter Brian Duensing in the third with a solo shot. Then he helped stretch Toronto’s lead to 8-0 with another solo gong off long reliever Kevin Slowey in the fourth. He put the finishing touches on his first and only big league three-homer day with a two-run shot against Slowey in the sixth.
4. Rivalry With Baltimore’s Darren O’Day Born – June 22, 2013
A harbinger of nasty things to come arrived in a game versus division rival Baltimore in an otherwise mediocre Blue Jays campaign where they would finish last in the AL East at 74-88. The day previous, during a 7-6 Toronto win over Baltimore, O’s reliever Darren O’Day yapped at Bautista after striking him out late in the game. Bautista, who didn’t take kindly to being shown up by O’Day, then barked at the reliever the next day as he approached the plate with the score knotted 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Jose proceeded to rip a two-run shot off O’Day that turned out to be the game-winner in a 4-2 victory. That was a start of a hate-hate relationship, as O’Day would plunk Bautista during a 8-2 Orioles playoff clinching win in 2014. Bautista would get his revenge on O’Day during the Blue Jays charge to the playoffs in 2015, smacking an early season two-run bomb off the reliever after ducking some high heat in a 10-7 win.
3. The ‘Bat Flip’ Homer – Oct. 14, 2015
Jose was Jose again in 2015, pounding out 40 homers (second on the team) and driving in 114 runs as Toronto surged to their first AL East title (and the playoffs) in 22 years. Having finally made it to the post-season, the Jays drew AL West champion Texas in the division series. They quickly went down 2-0 to the Rangers in the five-game series, losing those first two contests at home. Faced with the daunting task of taking both games in Texas to return the series to Toronto for game 5, the Jays did just that winning in convincing fashion 5-1 and 8-4. In a wild and woolly affair in game 5, Texas took a controversial 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh on what should have been a dead ball play, after which the game was delayed while angry Jays’ fans pelted the field with beer. In the bottom of that inning, the defensive wheels fell off for the Rangers, who made three consecutive errors to load the bases. A fielder’s choice brought in the tying run, leaving two on and Bautista coming to the plate against Sam Dyson. With the count at 1-1, Joey Bats then hit the definitive homer of his career, a three-run bomb succeeded with the “Bat Flip Heard Round the World.”
2. First Jay To Hit Multiple Homers In Playoff Game – Oct. 23, 2015
Even thought the Blue Jays fell short during the magical 2015 playoffs to Kansas City, Bautista continued to provide next level clutch hitting. Having clawed their way back in with a 7-2 beat down of the Royals in game 5 (after being blown out 14-2 at home in game 4), Toronto had to go back to Kansas City for the last two games. Kansas City jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against starter David Price, however, Bautista got the Jays on the board by hammering a 3-1 pitch from Royals’ starter Yordano Ventura for a solo job in the top of the 4th. Kansas City increased its lead with a run in the bottom of the seventh. In the top of the eighth, the Jays had the top of their order coming up at a crucial juncture and Ben Revere led off with a single. After K.C. reliever Ryan Madson struck out Josh Donaldson, Jose ripped a line-drive two-run shot to tie the game and in the process became the first Blue Jay ever to hit multiple homers in a post-season contest. Unfortunately for Toronto, the Royals would move on by scoring in the bottom of the inning.
1. The Brawl With Rougned Odor – May 15, 2016
The Texas Rangers no doubt circled two early 2016 season series against Bautista and the Blue Jays. The first, a four-game set in Toronto that saw the Blue Jays take three of four, ended pretty much without incident. The second, and last series between the now bitter rivals took place from May 13-15 in Arlington. The teams split the first two games and in the rubber match of the two teams’ final regular season game Texas took a 7-6 lead into the top of the eighth inning. Bautista led off the inning in what the Rangers thought would be his last at-bat against them that year. As revenge for the “Bat Flip”, rookie reliever Matt Bush plunked Jose with the first pitch. After a flyout by Edwin Encarnacion, a still seething Bautista ran toward second base on a fielders choice ground ball by Justin Smoak. He slid aggressively, causing Rangers 2B Rougned Odor to muck his throw and cause a brawl. Odor landed a big punch to Bautista’s jaw during the infamous melee. He and the Jays would get their revenge in the playoffs, though, sweeping the Rangers aside for their second ALDS victory in a row.