In an injury-riddled season, the one player the Toronto Blue Jays can ill-afford to lose is Jose Bautista and that may very well have happened in the eighth inning of Monday’s 6-3 loss to the first place New York Yankees, kicking off a critical six-game road trip.
With one out in a 2-2 tie, Bautista watched New York reliever David Robertson’s first two offerings out of the strike zone, then lashed the next pitch about 400 feet, but foul, into the left field stands. As he completed his swing, Bautista grimaced in obvious pain and clutched at his left wrist. He went to his knees as trainer George Poulos came out of the Toronto dugout.
After a moment’s conference, Bautista was pulled from the game, still in obvious pain and still holding on to his left wrist.
“On the swing after the 2-0 fastball, Jose felt a sensation in his left wrist,” said Jays manager John Farrell. “The (medical) report, so far, is that X-rays were negative but he has to go through testing and imaging (Tuesday) before we have a real read on what he’s dealing with.”
Unofficially, the club believes Bautista is dealing with a tendon issue.
“We’ve been fortunate as far as our everyday lineup is concerned as far as injuries go,” said Farrell. “This is the first one, but it’s a big blow, there’s no doubt. Until we have an idea how long this will be, we won’t know fully until Tuesday. There will be a follow-up transaction. Certainly Jose is not going to play tomorrow but we just have to wait to see how long it’s going to be.”
Shortly after the Jays game ended, Anthony Gose was pulled from the Las Vegas 51s lineup, leading to speculation he has been called to New York, at least as insurance if or when Bautista goes on the disabled list.
Earlier in the game, Bautista had scored from first base on an Edwin Encarnacion double, extending his left hand to make contact with the plate on a close play, leading to speculation he may have initiated the injury at that moment.
Farrell said that was not the case.
It goes without saying that the 2012 Jays prognosis as a team rests on the severity of this injury. They are dabbling at the edges of wild card contention -- two spots for eight teams currently two games or less apart -- but without their two-time defending MLB home run king, the outlook would be grim, indeed.
In the bottom of the eighth, Raul Ibanez snapped the tie with a two-out grand slam home run off Jason Frasor, sending the Yankees into a nine-game lead atop the American League East. The Jays fall to .500 at 45-45, but that was the least of their concerns, with their best player’s health very much in doubt.
“We’ve pushed Frasor quite a bit,” said Farrell. “The grand slam was as much about the overall usage he’s had. Because Darren (Oliver) went two innings on Sunday, we couldn’t match up with Ibanez right there.”
Henderson Alvarez pitched a strong six innings for Toronto, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks, but the eighth-inning bullpen meltdown, an all too familiar scene, did the Jays in again.
The Yankees opened the scoring in the second inning and, to Alvarez’s credit, it could have been worse. He walked No. 7 hitter Ibanez to lead off, then got Eric Chavez to ground into a double-play, leaving the bases empty when Russell Martin scraped the wall in right with his ninth home run of the season, the 18th homer Alvarez has given up in his 18 starts.
In the third, with one out, Alex Rodriguez doubled to right-centre, then trotted home on Robinson Cano’s double to right that eluded a diving Bautista.
Adam Lind cut the lead in half with two out in the fourth, lining his eighth homer into the right-field seats.
In the top of the sixth, Bautista walked with one out, then scored all the way from first on Encarnacion’s booming double off the wall in left to tie the game at 2-2. Bautista sneaked his hand in behind catcher Martin’s planted left foot to brush the plate and didn’t seem to react as if anything was amiss until that fateful eighth-inning swing.
In the bottom of the eighth, rookie reliever Aaron Loup got into trouble when Alex Rodriguez singled to left before moving up on a passed ball by catcher J.P. Arencibia. Rodriguez went to third on Cano’s infield single. Frasor came into the game and hit Teixeira on the foot with a pitch, loading the bases.
Frasor got the second out of the inning when he struck out Swisher at the end of a tough at-bat. But when the Jays righty fell behind Ibanez 3-1, he came into the strike zone and the ball was hammered to right to put the game away.
The Jays rallied for a run in the ninth but Colby Rasmus, representing the tying run at the plate, ended the game by striking out with runners at second and third.