Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista the hero in Game 5
Blue Jays 6-3 win propels them into the American League Championship Series
Jose Bautista slammed the ball deep into the left-centre field seats, then froze in place as if posing for a statue that might one day stand outside the Rogers Centre.
Then there was that spectacular bat flip.
"I knew I'd done something great for the team at the moment of impact," Bautista told reporters after the game.
"I don't remember much after that."
Bautista's Game 5-winning three-run blast is the biggest home run he's hit for the Blue Jays, which is saying a lot, considering how many the slugger has amassed since coming to Toronto in 2008.
It also underscores Bautista's love of high-pressure situations. Moments before he strode to the plate, Bautista was yelling at home plate umpire Dale Scott, who was dealing with a complaint from Rangers manager Jeff Banister.
Play with your heart. Play with emotion. And just try to win.- Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
"In a do-or-die game, tensions are going to be running high," Bautista said. "It's a different kind of game."
Did he care what Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson thought of his bat flip? "No."
In the past, Bautista's emotions have gotten him in trouble with umpires and other teams, but none of that seemed to matter to his coach and champagne-covered teammates on this night.
"Bautista, he's got the flair for the dramatic, you know," Toronto manager John Gibbons said fondly. "On the national stage, it really showed off."
Catcher Russell Martin, who was given a throwing error on the bizarre play that led to the Rangers taking a 3-2 lead, was one of the first Jays to leap out of the dugout when Bautista belted his home run.
"Jose Bautista was the hero today," he said after the game.
"It's a tough moment in the game," a diplomatic Bautista said following the game.
"In the moment you're like 'that should not be allowed to happen,' … it was not a baseball play," he said.
Even umpire Scott admitted to botching the call, saying in a statement that it was his "mistake" to call the play dead.
But a home run goes a long way in erasing that.
Bautista, who also had an RBI double early in the contest, played the clubhouse leader after the game, heaping praise on the "fearless" young pitchers who took the mound for the Jays: Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna, all under 25.
All three of those pitchers, unsurprisingly, compete the way Bautista expects ballplayers to.
"Play with your heart. Play with emotion. And just try to win."
Bautista and the Blue Jays will be looking for more success on Friday, when they go to Kansas City to take on the Royals in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BatFlip?src=hash">#BatFlip</a> forever on loop. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OwnOctober?src=hash">#OwnOctober</a> <a href="https://t.co/bGMRSvGVwL">https://t.co/bGMRSvGVwL</a>—@MLB