Jose Bautista looks comfortable in the No. 2 slot in the Toronto Blue Jays’ batting order.
Bautista hit two of Toronto’s five home runs, and the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 12-4 Sunday to take two of three in the weekend series.
”You get three or four runs ahead,” Bautista said, ”that’s when some guys come out and are able to take some big hacks and we get the types of results we got today.”
Bautista batted second for the second straight day after hitting in his usual cleanup slot through his first 31 games. He went 2 for 3 with a walk Sunday and is 4 for 7 with two homers and a pair of walks batting second.
Different spot. Same approach.
”Pitchers know who I am, and I know who they are, and I know how they’re going to try to get me out,” he said. ”If they execute, they get me out, and if I execute, I’m probably going to hit a ball hard somewhere.”
Bautista hit 54 homers in 2010 and 43 a year later, then dropped to 27 last season as a wrist injury caused him to miss 70 of the final 72 games. He entered Sunday’s game hitting just .236 with seven home runs.
”He’ll get on his rolls,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ”When it’s all said and done, he’s going to have a great year for us. Maybe this is the start of something? We’ll find out.”
Emilio Bonifacio, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie also homered for the Blue Jays, who have won just seven of their last 20 and are last in the AL East at 15-24. They finished a 4-3 trip.
”It’s a great way to bounce back because we were playing pretty bad,” Bautista said. ”It’s good to just be playing good baseball. We’re playing way better baseball than when we were struggling and that’s a bright spot for sure.”
Chad Jenkins (1-0) got his second major league win and first since Oct. 2, allowing two runs and seven hits in five innings-plus. It was just the fourth big league start and 14th appearance for Jenkins, who missed most of spring training and the start of the season with shoulder inflammation.
”To see the guys come out and put up that kind of run support, it really makes it easier on me, knowing I’ve got a little bit of wiggle room to work with,” Jenkins said. ”Last night we got clutch hits, and then today they were just pounding balls left and right, and that was awesome to watch.”
Mike Napoli and Pedro Ciriaco homered for Boston, which has lost eight of 10 following a 20-8 start under new manager John Farrell.
”I know it’s a cliche, but things are evening out,” Farrell said.
Ryan Dempster (2-4) gave up six runs and seven hits – including three homers – in five innings, his shortest start this season. The British Columbia native had been 6-0 against Toronto and Montreal in his big league career.
Boston’s Shane Victorino crashed into right-field wall in the fourth while catching Colby Rasmus’ drive and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. After being attended to by team personnel, Victorino remained in the game but left after the sixth inning and was taken to a hospital for further evaluation.
”Oh man,” said Toronto reliever Darren Oliver, who was in the bullpen at the time. ”He hit that wall hard.”
Munenori Kawasaki hit a two-run single in the second, and Bautista sent Dempster’s first pitch of the third into the seats above the Green Monster in left.
”I’m sure he didn’t want to throw it in that spot,” Bautista said of Dempster’s fastball. ”He was painting away on me all game long, and that ball crept up to where I like it more – over the heart of the plate, middle in – and I was able to connect.”
Bonifacio hit a two-run homer in the fourth for a 5-0 lead, his first home run since last July 23 for Miami.
Napoli led off the fourth with his seventh homer, and Encarnacion homered in the fifth to make it 6-1. Lawrie homered off Andrew Miller leading off the sixth and Bautista hit a two-run drive off Clayton Mortensen later in the inning for a 10-1 lead, Bautista’s ninth homer this year. He has 18 career multihomer games.
”He left it up in the zone where offspeed pitches get punished,” Bautista said, ”and I was able to connect on that as well.”
Ciriaco opened the eighth with his first home run since Aug. 26.
”I think we’ve got a number of guys dealing with frustration right now,” Farrell said. ”The key for us is maintaining our level of preparation and our work routine. Those are the two things that we can control. I know with the attitude of this group, we’re going to continue to work, but we’re getting tested right now. There’s no question about it.”
NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz had a scheduled day offafter playing in 19 games since returning from an injury April 20. He isin a 1-for-17 slump after hitting .414 with four homers and 17 RBIs through his first 15 games. … Bautista has reached safely in 18 of his last 19 games. … Farrell said RHP Andrew Bailey, on the DL with a right biceps strain, likely will throw off a mound Tuesday and the team then will decide whether he will require a rehab stint. … Boston C David Ross was placed on the seven-day concussion DL. The team recalled C Ryan Lavarnway from Triple-A Pawtucket. … Ciriaco entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh, making his first big league appearance at first base.