Blue Jays' Jose Bautista hits home runs 39 and 40

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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.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.