Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista the hero in Game 5

Jose Bautista's 7th inning home run may have been the biggest of his Blue Jays career. And for a player who thrives on drama, there could be more in store.

Blue Jays 6-3 win propels them into the American League Championship Series

Jose Bautista launches his bat after belting a game-winning home run in Game 5 of the American League Division Series. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

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.

The home run was the key moment in a wild 7th inning that included the following: an ultra-controversial call that handed the Rangers a lead, delinquent fans hurling debris and beer cans onto the field during an 18-minute delay, two bench-clearing disputes — the first of which was likely sparked by Bautista's bat flip — and three Texas Rangers errors.

Jose Bautista 3 run homer gives Jays 6-3 lead

7 years ago
Duration 1:10
Bautista's blast in the 7th inning was his 2nd of the postseason and broke a 3-3 tie in the game

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.

For the 49,742 fans — many of whom chanted "Jose! Jose-Jose-Jose!" as they left the dome — Bautista also prevented the game from becoming a contest decided by the umpire's call on the unfortunate Martin play.
Ezequiel Carrera, left, douses Bautista with champagne as the Jays celebrate coming back to win the best-of-five series with the Texas Rangers. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

"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.

Clubhouse leader

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.


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