Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the year on Monday in a 3-2 victory over the Yankees. It was his sixth multi-homer game of the season and gave him a seven-homer lead on Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols for most in the majors.
Bautista is the first American League player to top 40 home runs since Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Pena did it back in 2007 and he has been contributing beyond the long-ball in Toronto for a few months now.
His on-base percentage on June 19 was .350. It’s now .370.
His slugging percentage on June 19 was .526. It’s now .600.
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes, Barry Bonds had 55 round-trippers at this time in 2001 and Mark McGwire had 51 in 1999. But home run numbers are relative, or at least they should be relative. That was the steroid era. This, hopefully, is not.
Either way, Bautista’s 40 home runs don’t feel any less special. He’s having a monstrous season for the Blue Jays and it’s largely come out of nowhere. The 29-year-old’s previous career high in homers was 16 (in 2006) and his previous high in RBI was 63 (in 2007). Now Bautista has 95 runs batted in and a .970 OPS.
TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.
Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.
If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.
“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”
Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.
The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.
Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.