TORONTO (AP) — Jose Bautista gave Blue Jays fans something to cheer for in the final home game of a disappointing season,
Bautista had two hits and a walk in what was likely his last home appearance for Toronto, leaving to a standing ovation during the ninth inning of a 9-5 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday.
“A lot of good emotions,” a teary-eyed Bautista said. “It’s good to be recognized and it’s good to feel the love. I appreciate everything that happened today.”
Bautista, who turns 37 next month, is hitting .203 with 22 homers and 62 RBIs, and Toronto appears unlikely to exercise its half of a $17 million mutual option.
“He helped rebuild the team, he was the face of the franchise for a number of years, and he did it right way,” manager John Gibbons said of Bautista, who led the majors in home runs with 54 in 2010 and 43 in 2011.
Aaron Judge homered twice for the Yankees, increasing his AL-leading total to 48 — one shy of the major league rookie record set by Mark McGwire in 1987. Judge has 11 home runs in September.
“It’s pretty special what he’s done at this point already,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It would be another nice little honor to have in his cap.”
A day after clinching a postseason berth, New York dropped five games behind AL East-leading Boston with seven games to play. The Yankees‘ lead over Minnesota for the top AL wild card was cut to 4½ games.
“It’s getting fairly large with seven games to go,” Girardi said of the gap with Boston. “Obviously we’re going to keep playing, but I think you have to start to think ahead a little bit, too.”
Bautista took the field alone for the start of the game, and teammates applauded him from the top step of the dugout as the sellout crowd of 47,394 cheered. Fans stood each time Bautista came to the plate and again when Ezequiel Carrera replaced Bautista in right field with one out in the ninth. The six-time All-Star embraced several teammates as he left the field, then responded to another ovation with a curtain call.
“We just decided it was probably better if he took the field alone to give him the credit that he deserved,” Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said. “He’s been a huge part of this franchise for a long time.”
Girardi said he spoke to Bautista when the Yankees visited Toronto in August to express his admiration.
“I respect the way he plays,” Girardi said. “He plays hard every day, and you can count on him. He’s meant a lot to this city. He’s meant a lot to this organization. You could see that he was emotional coming off the field. I thought it was nice what they did.”
Teoscar Hernandez homered for the third straight game and Russell Martin hit a three-run double against his former team. Toronto took two of three in the series, stopping New York’s streak of six straight series wins.
Marcus Stroman (13-8), who warmed up in the bullpen wearing a black vintage Bautista Blue Jays jersey, allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Stroman asked a clubhouse attendant to locate the jersey, and said the one he wore was tracked down in a stadium display case.
“It’s authenticated,” Stroman said. “They took it out and let me wear it. I guess they’ll probably wash it and put it back.”
Judge has 11 home runs in September, his highest total in any month. He has hit 20 homers against AL East rivals Baltimore (11) and Toronto (nine).
Left-hander Jaime Garcia jeopardized his chance of making New York’s postseason roster, allowing five runs, four hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. Garcia (1-3) had five 3-0 counts among his 14 batters and was removed after throwing eight consecutive balls.
“Behind in the count, didn’t have good command of his sinker,” Girardi said. “Didn’t look like he had real good command of his changeup, as well, today.”
Hernandez homered into the second deck on Garcia’s second pitch, becoming Toronto’s first rookie to homer in three straight games.
Darwin Barney hit a sacrifice fly in the second, and Martin made it 5-0 with his bases-clearing double off Jonathan Holder in the third.
Toronto got four more against Bryan Mitchell in the fourth. Josh Donaldson and Bautista hit RBI singles, and Bautista was thrown out at home plate trying to score from first on Kendrys Morales’ bases-loaded single.
Toronto drew 3,203, 886 in 81 home dates this season, currently the highest figure of any AL team. The Yankees are at 2.9 million with seven games left.
WALK THIS WAY
Judge drew his 119th walk, the highest AL total since Bautista had 132 in 2006.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (12-5, 3.81) starts as New York returns home Monday to play an afternoon makeup game against Kansas City. Sabathia is 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his past six starts. RHP Jakob Junis (8-2, 4.05) starts for the Royals
Blue Jays: LHP Brett Anderson (3-4, 7.15) starts the opener of a three-game series at Boston at Monday. Anderson allowed eight runs in 1 1/3 innings against Kansas City in his previous start. LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5, 3.15) starts for the Red Sox.
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