Bautista's bat flip in Game 5 of ALDS is one for the ages
Bat flips have become somewhat commonplace in today's game, but none has had as much impact, emotion and force as Jose Bautista's in Wednesday's Game 5 of the ALDS.
But like many other bat flips, the move sure seemed to tick off the other team.
With the Blue Jays having just tied the game with the Rangers at 3-3 in the seventh, and with the Toronto crowd at a fever pitch in the midst of one of the wildest innings in recent MLB history, Bautista hit a three-run, no-doubt-about-it blast to left that put the home team up 6-3 — the game’s final score — and ultimately assured Toronto its first ALCS berth since 1993.
In case you don't remember how the 1993 season ended:
Bautista knew it was gone the second the ball hit the bat, so he gave the ball one of the most emphatic stares and bat flips you’ll ever see, on either side of the border:
"It's the most emotionally charged game that I've ever played," Bautista told reporters after the game.
The benches emptied before the next pitch, though it appeared the cause was not Bautista’s flip, but rather Texas pitcher Sam Dyson taking exception to the next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, waving to the crowd, apparently in an effort to get fans to stop throwing objects onto the field.
Video showed Dyson walk up to Encarnacion, the hitter’s back to the pitcher in the area of the batter’s box, then Encarnacion turn around followed by an exchange of words. That is when the dugouts emptied.
But after the game, Dyson did indeed sound like Bautista’s bat flip was the impetus for him approaching Encarnacion.
"I told (Encarnacion that Bautista) needs to calm that down, respect the game a little more," Dyson told reporters.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons defended his slugger and offered a different take:
"(Bautista has) been known to hit dramatic home runs and there ain't a better time," Gibbons said after the game. "This is his first opportunity on a national stage and he rose to the occasion."
The home run came after the Blue Jays decided to play the game under protest following a controversial call in the top half of the seventh inning, when umpires awarded the Rangers the go-ahead run after catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to the pitcher ricocheted off Shin-Soo Choo’s bat and caromed down the third-base line, allowing Rougned Odor to score from third with the game tied at 2.
Umpires originally ruled the play a dead ball and sent Odor back to third, but after discussing the play with Rangers manager Jeff Banister and then talking among themselves, the crew awarded Odor the run.
That was the first time debris rained down from the stands.
All in all, the entire seventh inning took an extraordinary 53 minutes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report