Jose Bautista made history with one swing of the bat on Friday night as he set a new Toronto Blue Jays single season home run mark in an 11-9 win over the host Boston Red Sox.
The 29-year-old unloaded on a Michael Bowden offering in the top of the sixth inning and sent it over the Green Monster for his 48th round tripper of the season.
With the landmark homer, the Dominican Republic native passed fellow countryman, George Bell, to move atop the franchise record book.
Now that the right fielder has made his mark, his sights are set on the illustrious half century mark. With 15 games remaining, he is projected to hit six more long balls at his current rate of one every nine at bats.
Amidst all the hoopla over Bautista’s accomplishment it was easy to forget there was still a game to be played.
After an offensive drought in their previous series against the Baltimore Orioles, the Jays hoped a trip to Boston to face John Lackey would solve their silent bats.
If there was a solution to their hitting woes, facing Lackey was a good place to start, as over his past three starts the righty had an unimpressive 7.71 ERA.
With that in mind the Jays got to Lackey early and poured it on in the fifth, winning the game handily, 11-9.
Cecil looking for improvement
Brett Cecil looked to improve against the Red Sox after getting bombed in his last start against the Rays. He would throw six innings, giving up seven hits and five runs in the win.
The first inning would be one Cecil would like to forget as he surrendered a two-run home run to Victor Martinez that sailed into the seats atop the left field wall to make it 2-0 Boston.
Toronto looked to respond in the second as Lyle Overbay led off with an opposite-field double to left. Once again the Jays would get two on with none out as Adam Hill was hit in his hand by a pitch.
It appeared to bother the second baseman as he was forced to leave the game after the inning and was later diagnosed with a left hand contusion and is listed as day-to-day.
Coming up to the plate Adam Lind sent a line drive to centre field to bring in Overbay and Hill, to tie the game 2-2.
Getting some run support seemed to get Cecil back in the zone and he went through the next three innings untouched, giving up only one hit.
The pitch count grew for Lackey and his control began to waver. Eventually the Jays would capitalize in the fifth.
Overbay clears them
The Jays loaded the bases, Overbay stepped to the plate, and he roped a liner down the right field line for a double, cashing in two runs to take the lead, 4-2.
John McDonald brought in Vernon Wells on a sac fly, 5-2 Jays.
Next batter, Adam Lind, would send a shot to right field that Darnell McDonald misplayed as it caromed off the wall, allowing Lind to reach third and bringing in Overbay, 6-2.
That was all manager Terry Francona could bear to see out of Lackey, and he opted to pull the starter for reliever Bowden.
Adding another run before taking the field, the Jays seemed in control. Once Bautista made history the game was well out of reach, as his two run shot made it 9-2.
It appears the drought is over for the Jays as Escobar managed four hits, Overbay had two doubles and two RBI’s, while Lind finished with three hits and three RBI’s.
When it looked like the game was out of reach, Martinez stepped to the plate in the eighth and launched another moon shot clearing the “monster” into the parking lot. His two run blast was his second of the night and brought the Sox closer, 11-7.
The bullpen inconsistency that has plagued the Jays appeared to be on full display in the bottom of the ninth as Scott Downs allowed a leadoff double to Jed Lowrie.
He seemed to settle down after, getting the next two batters to get out of the inning.
With Daniel Nava at the plate, Downs tried to end the game but would end his night instead, surrendering a deep drive to centre field that hit the wall to bring in Lowrie, putting the tying run at the plate.
Kevin Gregg came in to get Martinez on a pop up.