Bautista's homer gives Jays win in extras
Corey Patterson's face lights up when asked about hitting in front of Jose Bautista, the man he believes to be the best player in baseball.
"You'll get a pitch to hit, sometimes two, sometimes maybe even three because they know who's on deck and they don't want to have guys on base when he comes up," Patterson said. "I know that in the back of my mind."
Case in point: Toronto's 11-inning win over Minnesota on Saturday.
With Patterson on first, Bautista hit a two-run homer in the 11th and the Blue Jays won their fourth straight game by beating Minnesota 9-3.
Bautista's two-run shot off reliever Jim Hoey broke a 3-3 tie. Hoey walked the next two batters and J.P. Arencibia followed with a double off Jose Mijares to help send the Twins to their seventh straight loss.
Bautista's homer was his major league-leading 13th of the season and came after Glen Perkins (0-1) gave up a leadoff single to Patterson.
Bautista entered the game leading baseball in walks (34), slugging percentage (.798) and on-base percentage (.525). He has reached base safely in 30 of 31 games, including 20 straight.
"He's hitting home runs, has a high a high average, RBI, on-base percentage," Patterson said. "Typically guys that hit a lot of homers are going to be lacking in something as far as their average goes."
"That's one guy I do not want to face," said Blue Jays starter Jo-Jo Reyes, who allowed a season-high 10 hits and extended his winless streak to 26 consecutive starts. "People try throwing him in and he hits home runs. Today, they started going away so he hits a home run the other way. Throw the whole kitchen sink and see what he hits. I have no clue. I don't want to face him."
Former Twins closer Jon Rauch (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn struck out a career-high eight through 7 2-3 innings. He looked well on his way to his third win before a two-out infield single by Yunel Escobar in the eighth. Patterson followed with a triple that made it 3-3, and Blackburn was done after intentionally walking Bautista.
"I made some pretty good pitches and all that stuff, but the fact that it ended that way is still pretty frustrating," he said.
Minnesota had a chance to win in the ninth after Justin Morneau doubled to centre, but Delmon Young struck out for the third time and Michael Cuddyer, who homered earlier, popped out to second to send the game to extra innings.
The Twins were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and are 6 for 40 in the last four games.
"There was a lot of big opportunities. We were one big hit away. That's it. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us," Morneau said.
Arencibia hit his sixth homer of the season, a towering solo shot to left in the second inning to make it 2-2.