TORONTO – That epic bat flip by Jose Bautista?
“On a 1-10 that’s a 27,” said Ryan Goins, who was standing at third base when the all-star right-fielder ripped a decisive three-run homer that sent the Toronto Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series. “Unbelievable. I think it was the exclamation point. Not that we didn’t need more runs, but that was an exclamation point on the series and the season to that point. It was an unbelievable swing. That was the most fun home run I’ve ever had in my life.”
Bautista’s second homer of the American League Division Series came in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers. He swung at a 97-mph Sam Dyson heater, stared at it and then whipped his bat away before circling the bases as Rogers Centre erupted.
Yasiel Puig at his showiest couldn’t touch it.
“That was a Grade A bat flip, I can tell you that,” said Brett Cecil. “That’s one of those bat flips that has nothing to do with the pitcher, that has nothing to do with the team that we’re playing against, it’s just excitement pouring out of Jose.”
What went through Bautista’s mind in the moment?
“I can’t really remember what was going through my mind, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “After I made contact, I didn’t plan anything that I did, and so I still don’t even know how I did it. I just enjoyed the moment, rounded the bases and got to the dugout.
“And after all the guys stopped punching me and hitting me is when I kind of started realizing what happened. I knew I did something great for the team at the moment of impact because I knew I hit that ball pretty good, and I gave us the lead in a crucial moment so I was happy to do that.”
Less happy was Dyson, who walked toward the plate while Edwin Encarnacion was trying to calm the crowd down, and took exception to Bautista’s actions. The benches cleared on the first of two occasions in the inning.
“I told (Encarnacion) that Jose needs to calm that down, respect the game more. It needs to stop,” said Dyson. “He’s a huge role model for the younger generation that’s coming up playing this game, and he’s doing stuff that kids do in waffle ball games and backyard baseball. It shouldn’t be done. … That’s unacceptable, regardless of what level you’re on. … If you watch his replays throughout the year, I think you’ll understand.”
Not everyone sees it that way.
— Jason Kipnis (@TheJK–Kid) October 14, 2015
Dyson touched off the second melee, as well, when he crossed paths with Troy Tulowitzki after the final out of the seventh.
“I didn’t say a word on him, I just tapped him on the butt,” said Dyson. “He told me not to touch him, and things escalated from there. … It was just a nice gesture on my part. That’s what I thought. He took it another way. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it, but it wasn’t anything to disgrace him.”
The Bautista home run was the just the fifth Dyson has allowed to a right-handed batter in his career. Righties had just 10 extra-base hits, three of them homers, against him in 170 at-bats this year.
“Bautista stepped up,” said Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. “That’s so tough, right-right on Sam Dyson. Bautista’s had some tough at-bats against him. To lift the ball against a guy like that is unbelievable.”
Added R.A. Dickey: “I was in the at-bat with him. He fouled off a really good sinker and I was just hoping that Dyson was going to elevate one and he did, and when he started his swing I was real hopeful because I knew he was going to hit it hard. I was halfway up on the carpet before the ball even left the field. It was awesome.”