Jose Bautista was rummaging through his cluttered locker in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse before Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Sox trying to locate a vital piece of equipment.
You could just imagine the mental checklist the all-star was processing during his frantic search.
Jockstrap – check. Compression shorts – check. Cool-looking sunglasses – check. Booster Juice brochures – check. Pile of unanswered fan mail – check.
Finally, Bautista reaches way into the back and pulls out the object of his desire: a first baseman’s glove. Bautista yanks the tan-leather trapper on his left hand and then frowns. The glove is almost brand new and yet to be broken-in to his liking.
To no one in particular Bautista notes that he is soon off to the indoor batting cage to play some catch with the pitching machine to try to loosen the cowhide up.
And before he dashes off, Bautista greets Cabral Richards – Cabbie to all his chums – a TSN sports television personality.
“You’ve just shaken the hand of the most expensive utility player in the majors,” Bautista cracks before heading off.
Such is life these days for the Blue Jays, their tattered and torn roster requiring all sorts of lineup machinations from manager John Gibbons.
For Wednesday’s game, Gibbons plunked his right fielder at first base for just the seventh time this season so as to keep young Anthony Gose, whose play has heated up of late, in the lineup in right.
The giant game of chance would favour the Blue Jays (53-49) on this night as the home side fought back from an early disadvantage to hand their American League East rivals their second-straight setback, this one by a score of 6-4.
With the win, the Blue Jays lead the four-game set 2-1 with a chance to take the series outright with a victory in the wind-up on Thursday afternoon.
It was a rollicking game, filled with mayhem, mistakes and muscle that provided delightful entertainment for the gathering of 35,696 at Rogers Centre.
It also featured the major-league debut of Aaron Sanchez, Toronto’s top pitching prospect who was only summoned from Triple-A the day before.
Entering the game in the top of the seventh with the Blue Jays leading by one, Sanchez worked two perfect innings, his fastball topping out a 98 miles an hour while striking out two.
The game got off to a frenzied start, with Boston jumping in front 3-0 in the first inning on the strength of a David Ortiz home run, his fourth through the first three games.
The dinger, the 24th of the season for Ortiz, was a towering shot that almost hit former Blue Jay great Roberto Alomar – his name, that is, that resides on the Level of Excellence facing way above the second deck in right field.
Undaunted, the Blue Jays charged right back in the bottom of the frame, scoring three of their own to tie it up. It could have been more, too, were Melky Cabrera not thrown out at home plate for the first out of the inning.
Both starting pitchers, R.A. Dickey for the Blue Jays and Clay Buchholz for the Red Sox, also received early scares.
Buchholz took a high hopper struck by Munenori Kawasaki in the bottom of the first off the jaw that dropped him to the mound. He was up quickly and, after a few practice throws, was able to resume play. In the top of the second, Dickey was struck in the small of the back by a line drive off the bat of Christian Vazquez. Dickey, too, would also be okay.
Bautista must have worked in that glove okay as he made a nice stab of a Jackie Bradley Jr. grounder in the top of the second inning with a Boston runner already stationed at first base.
Bautista made a good throw to second to force the lead runner and then nimbly made his way back to the bag at first for the return throw to complete the tricky double play.
Boston would charge ahead 4-3 with a run in the fifth but the Blue Jays would take command in the sixth, scoring twice to make a winner of Dickey (8-10) for just the second time in his past eight outings.
It was Ryan Goins, another Triple-A callup, who got things going, clubbing his first career triple that scored Josh Thole all the way from first with the tying run.
Goins then scored the winning run when Boston third baseman Xander Bogaerts made a throwing error trying to throw out Jose Reyes at first.
Bautista would then add an insurance marker with his 18th home run of the season – and his first since July 2 – in the seventh.
Closer Casey Janssen then came in to work a perfect ninth for his 15th save of the year.