MINNEAPOLIS - Forget about a trip to Lourdes to cure the ailing bat of Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista.
All it takes is a visit to Target Field, which is a short haul flight compared to taking a jet to France.
But if you believe deeply enough, miracles can occur at any corner. For Bautista, there is no spot more productive than the Minnesota Twins' three-year old ball park.
Bautista dragged a weary bat to Minneapolis having gone 4-for-24 on the Jays' current road trip with just seven hits over his previous 49 at-bats.
Not to worry. The gods that inhabit Target Field move in mysterious ways.
In the first inning, Bautista put a sweet swing on a 1-1 pitch and crushed it into the seats in left field for his sixth homer of the season.
Then in the sixth, with his club trailing 6-2, he led off the inning with a second jolt into the seats, No. 7 on the season.
Hitting homers at Target Field is what Bautista does best. Last season, he stroked five in a three-game series and overall has nine homers in the nine games he has played here.
By way of comparison, the Twins' Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have, in 194 combined games, managed to hit seven.
It was the first multi-homer game of the season for Bautista and the 16th of his career. Two other Jays — Edwin Encarnacion and Eric Thames — joined Bautista in the home run derby, but it counted for naught.
Like a Whack-A-Mole game at the local fair, just when it seems that Bautista might get going, a problem pops up called Kyle Drabek.
The sins of Drabek overcame the miracle of Bautista and it was the Twins that emerged with the 7-6 victory.
Drabek was the topic and the bulk of the pre-game chat with John Farrell and the Jays manager was all positive.
Farrell talked about how Drabek has been better at handling his emotions, about how he has the trust in his two-seam fastball, that even in his three consecutive losses he has seemed to be under control.
The talk turned out to be cheap, however, and following a nearly two-hour rain delay that pushed the start to 9 p.m. CT, a wild and erratic Drabek took to the mound.
After 97 pitches and four innings, Drabek came out for the fifth. After a double and strikeout, he was up to 109 and that was it.
It was Drabek's shortest outing of the season and snapped the Jays' streak of starters working a minimum of five innings at 34 consecutive outings. He walked three batters in a two-run first, four overall and seemed to be 3-2 on every batter.
Drabek’s disintegration is disheartening as he has not won since his second start back on April 15 and has gone five starts since that victory.
It looks a lot like last season where he was 2-0 with a 3.30 after five starts but then went 2-5 over the next nine starts and had his ERA jump to 5.70 before he was sent down to triple-A Las Vegas.
Preventing another such slide is now the Jays' main objective
Despite the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays have been scuffling to make consistent contact at the plate they have been solid run producers.
In a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not type of stat, the Jays rank third in the American League in runs scored with 152 even though they are batting a collective .238.
A big reason for their solid run production has been their ability to hit with runners in scoring position. In addition to that they have been busting their asses on the base paths and taking extra bases whenever possible.
“That’s been one of our strengths this year, we have base runners that are assertive and are looking for opportunities to move up 90 (feet) and an extra 90 if it’s there,” third base coach Brian Butterfield said.
Moving up an extra 90 feet and hustling on the bases is something that third baseman Brett Lawrie said the team takes a lot of pride in.
“We work at it all the time,” Lawrie said. “At spring training we worked on aggressive base running, worked at scoring from second base all the time, especially with two outs, trying to take that extra base. We want to get ourselves into the best position possible to get that next guy in line, give him the best opportunity to knock us in. Any base you can move up, it helps everyone else out. It gets you that much closer to home plate and gives the hitter the confidence that he can drive you in.”
Since Farrell came on to become the club's manager he has stressed the philosophy of being aggressive on the base paths. If an error is made the Jays want it to be on the side of aggression rather than the side of caution.
“We don’t consider being thrown out a mistake,” Butterfield said. “We consider that pushing the envelope and sometimes it works and it’s going to work more than it doesn’t.”
Through their opening 32 games, it’s an approach the Jays have used to their advantage.