Mariners-Blue Jays Preview
Jose Bautista matched the Toronto Blue Jays’ single-season home
run record during Kyle Drabek’s major league debut.
Bautista will join an even more exclusive club if he goes deep
in the young right-hander’s first home start.
Drabek takes the mound Wednesday night against the Seattle
Mariners as Bautista takes another shot at his 50th homer this
Acquired last offseason in the deal that sent Roy Halladay to
Philadelphia, Drabek (0-1, 4.50 ERA) struck out five and yielded
three runs and nine hits in his first big league start, a 3-1 loss
at Baltimore on Sept. 15. The son of former NL Cy Young winner Doug
Drabek went six strong innings, but the Blue Jays only backed him
with Bautista’s first-inning home run, which tied the franchise
record of 47 set by George Bell in 1987.
“He did a good job. He kept us in the ball game,” manager Cito
Gaston said of Drabek, the Eastern League pitcher of the year. “We
just didn’t score runs for him.”
The Blue Jays (76-74) didn’t have that problem in Tuesday’s 5-2
victory over Seattle, as Vernon Wells, Edwin Encarnacion and Travis
Snider all homered. Toronto leads the majors with 232 home
Bautista, whose previous career high was 16 homers in 2006 with
Pittsburgh, will try to become the 26th player to hit 50 in one
season. The last ones to reach that plateau were the Yankees’ Alex
Rodriguez (54) and Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder (50) in 2007.
Bautista is 4 for 9 with a homer and two RBIs versus Seattle
(57-93) this season. He has yet to face David Pauley (2-8, 4.14),
who makes his first start against Toronto since May 31, 2006, while
The right-hander has lost his last four decisions, but Seattle
has scored just 12 total runs in his last five outings.
“(The lack of run support is) one of those things,” Pauley said
after allowing two runs – one earned – in six innings of a 5-1 loss
to the Red Sox on Sept. 15.
While Seattle is the majors’ worst hitting team at .234, Ichiro
Suzuki leads all players in hits and needs just three to become the
first in major league history with 10 straight 200-hit seasons.
“I really believe he hits the ball where he wants to,” Gaston
said. “He just picks a spot and if there’s nobody there, he’ll hit
Suzuki is batting .352 in 81 career games versus Toronto.
Mariners third baseman Jose Lopez is batting .394 with a homer
and seven RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak at Rogers
Toronto has won four straight at home against Seattle, which has
dropped 10 of 12 on the road.