What with Brett Lawrie’s helmet humiliation, Adam Lind’s continuing disappearing act and Ricky Romero’s sudden love affair with walks, the good news has been hard to discern of late for the Toronto Blue Jays.
However, a familiar figure has started to darken the Blue Jays’ doorway of late, and if the cobwebs have finally been cleared for good from the bat of Jose Bautista manager John Farrell has a reason for optimism.
Bautista hit another home run for the Blue Jays Thursday night, his second in as many games against the New York Yankees, and it helped pave the way for a tight 4-1 Toronto victory over their fierce American League East rival before 31,266 at Rogers Centre.
With the win, the Blue Jays (21-18) won both of the two-game mini-series with a new lineup that featured Yan Gomes making his Major League debut at third base, Rajai Davis in left field in place of Eric Thames and Ben Francisco as the designated hitter.
It is much too early to be paying attention to such things so it hardly seems worth mentioning that with the victory the Blue Jays have moved ahead of the Yankees (20-18) and into third place in the cramped A.L. East standing.
After a tepid start in which his batting average has been well under .200 for much of the year, Bautista appears to be rounding into the form that allowed him to lead the Major Leagues in home runs in each of the past two seasons.
Bautista’s blast, his 10th overall and fifth in his last seven games, was huge -- a towering two-run shot off Yankee starter Phil Hughes in the third inning that cleared with wall in left field.
That hit erased a 1-0 New York lead the Yankees laid claim to in the first inning and provided the slimmest of margins for rookie pitcher Drew Hutchison to work with to improve to 3-1 in his six starts.
“If going deep five times in seven games isn’t locked in then we’re in for a real treat if he’s yet to click in,” Farrell said about Bautista.
Apart from surrendering four walks, it remained another solid outing for the 21-year-old Hutchison, who went six innings for the second consecutive outing, allowing one New York run off just five hits.
“I thought Hutch, once again, kept his composure,” Farrell said. “He does a very good job of keeping the game under control.”
The game was almost secondary to events earlier in the day that saw the Blue Jays finally demote the struggling Lind to Triple-A to try and recover his once feared swing.
To replace Lind, the Blue Jays called up Yan Gomes from Las Vegas, and he made his Major League debut at third base in place of Brett Lawrie.
Lawrie was sitting out the first of a four-game suspension he received from Major League Baseball for an incident earlier in the week when the batting helmet he threw off the ground in anger over a called third strike bounced up and struck home plate umpire Bill Miller in the hip.
Lawrie was originally going to appeal the four-game suspension, but changed his mind on Thursday.
“Getting it [the suspension]reduced, it was a coin flip,” Lawrie said. “We didn’t know if they were going to reduce the games or whatnot.
“So I think it’s just easy enough just to kind of suck this one up and take these four games and kind of move on down the road.”
While Lawrie sat, Derek Jeter started for the Yankees at shortstop after sitting out the night before, the first game he has missed all season.
Jeter bunted the first pitch he saw from Hutchison and it went right back to the pitcher’s mound for the easy out at first base.
That good start was quickly negated when Hutchison issued a five-pitch walk to Curtis Granderson who came all the way around to score the game’s first run when Robinson Cano clubbed a double to the gap in left-centre.
After Bautista’s homer, J.P. Arencibia did the same in the seventh, his fifth of the season, a two-run shot to left field that provided Toronto with some breathing room.
Casey Janssen came on to work the ninth for Toronto to earn his third save of the year.