Jose Bautista figured it was time to slow down and enjoy the moment.
Still steamed about a head-high pitch in his previous at bat, Bautista took his sweet time circling the bases on a tiebreaking solo blast in the eighth inning, a shot that helped the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 3-2.
”Given what transpired earlier, I enjoyed it pretty good,” Bautista said.
Bautista, who also hit a two-run drive, leads the major leagues with 40 home runs this season.
It was the sixth multihomer game of the season for Bautista, the first Toronto player to reach the 40-homer plateau since Carlos Delgado hit 42 in 2003.
Bautista leads the majors in homers (16), RBIs (39) and extra-base hits (25) since the All-Star break.
”He’s put together an unbelievable second half,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Toronto has a major league-leading 190 home runs this season, including 105 at home. Twenty-five of Bautista’s homers have come at home.
Bautista hit his tiebreaking shot off right-hander David Robertson (2-4), one at-bat after taking exception to a high pitch from Yankees starter Ivan Nova, who was making his first career start. He took nearly 30 seconds to round the bases, then came out for a lengthy curtain call.
”If I was on the other side I’d be mad, but I also understand what he was doing, what it was all about,” Overbay said of Bautista’s leisurely loop. ”It was fun to see.”
Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson said the slow trot didn’t bother him.
”Whether he walks around the bases or jogs around the bases, hey, he hit a home run,” Granderson said. ”You’ve got to go ahead and try to get him not to hit a home run.”
Both benches and bullpens emptied after Nova fired one over the head of catcher Francisco Cervelli to begin the sixth. Bautista exchanged words with Nova and took several steps toward the mound while plate umpire Meals warned both dugouts.
”Instinctively, I was kind of upset,” Bautista said. ”I was just trying to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from him. I was surprised to see he was pretty defiant. He was walking up towards me and flashing his hands up and started yelling. That’s when I felt that the pitch was intentional.”
Nova said he was surprised by Bautista’s angry reaction.
”Nothing happened,” Nova said. ”It wasn’t on purpose or anything.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi raced out to get between the two, but there was no physical contact.
”He didn’t like it,” Girardi said. ”It was upstairs. It was handled fine. They gave the warnings. I don’t think our guy is trying to hit him, but we’re not going to let him be comfortable.”
Scott Downs (5-5) pitched one inning for the win and Kevin Gregg finished in the ninth for his 28th save in 32 chances.
New York opened the scoring in the first when Nick Swisher walked and scored on a two-out double by Robinson Cano.
Toronto loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half against Nova. The Blue Jays came up empty when Fred Lewis was thrown out at the plate by Brett Gardner on Vernon Wells’ fly ball, and Adam Lind struck out swinging. Gardner’s outfield assist was his 10th.
The Blue Jays took the lead in the third. Escobar reached on an infield single when Eduardo Nunez’s throw from shortstop pulled Mark Teixeira off the bag. Bautista followed with a homer into the second deck in left.
The Yankees tied it in the sixth when Cano drew a two-out walk and scored on Jorge Posada’s double to right-center.
Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out 12.
Shawn Camp pitched the seventh before Downs took over in the eighth.
Escobar and Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston were ejected in the top of the sixth. Escobar was tossed by Meals shortly after flying out to left to end the fifth.
Gaston came out of the dugout and argued with both Meals and crew chief Dale Scott, the third base umpire, before he was ejected for the second time this season.
Nova allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings, walked one and struck out three.
”He pitched really well,” Girardi said. ”We liked what the kid did.”
NOTES: Yankees SS Derek Jeter was held out of the starting lineup after playing 17 days in a row but pinch hit in the ninth, popping up for the final out. … Blue Jays 3B Edwin Encarnacion returned to the lineup after missing the past three games with a sore left wrist. … Girardi shot down speculation that he would pursue the Cubs managerial job, made vacant by Lou Piniella’s early retirement Sunday. ”I’m very happy here,” Girardi said. ”I have a great working relationship here with everyone involved and I’m very happy here.”