Jose Bautista's three-run blast guides Toronto Blue Jays past Los Angeles Angels

By Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange  |  April 22, 2017 at 11:38 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- About the only thing worse than the Toronto Blue Jays' start to the 2017 season has been Jose Bautista's start to the 2017 season.

As the Blue Jays got off to a major league-worst 3-12 record heading into Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels, Bautista was hitless in 16 at-bats, his average was at a paltry .109, and he had all of one RBI and zero home runs for the season.

His hitless streak reached 20 before an infield single in the ninth inning snapped the slide, and apparently it was what Bautista needed. He walked in the 11th inning, then hit a three-run homer in the 13th, lifting the Blue Jays to an 8-7 win in a game that ended at 12:45 a.m. PT Saturday morning.

Angels pitcher Jesse Chavez, scheduled to start Sunday's game, was instead called upon to pitch the 13th after the Angels had already used everyone in their bullpen. Chavez retired the first two Blue Jays hitters of the inning before Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera each singled.

Bautista followed with his first homer of the season, hitting a 1-1 pitch over the wall in center.

"Not only for the team, but what it'll do for Jose is big," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the decisive homer. "He can exhale a little bit."

The Angels made things interesting in the bottom of the 13th, getting help from some shoddy defense by the Blue Jays. The Angels loaded the bases with no outs, thanks in part to errors by first baseman Justin Smoak and third baseman Chris Coghlan.

Toronto reliever Joe Biagini replaced Aaron Loup to face Cliff Pennington, who struck out for the first out of the inning. But Kole Calhoun singled to drive in one run, cutting the Blue Jays' lead to 8-6.

Mike Trout, who homered a few hours earlier in the fifth, was hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count to force home a run and make it 8-7, bringing up Albert Pujols.

Pujols, though, struck out and C.J. Cron flied out to center to end it after five hours and 36 minutes.

"Tough win," Gibbons said. "Guys are tired, we went on so late, then it got ugly in that last inning. We couldn't catch a ground ball."

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Bautista's home run gave them enough of a cushion.

"Any win is important, but we're off to a slow start and you play a game like this ... you lose and it could be demoralizing," Bautista said. "The win is very important."

Ryan Tepera (1-0), the fourth of six Toronto relievers, pitched three scoreless innings to get the win.

A three-run double by Pujols and a solo homer by Trout gave the Angels a 4-2 lead through five innings before the Blue Jays cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth after an error by Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar led to an unearned run.

In the eighth, a two-run double by Smoak put the Blue Jays up 5-4.

The Angels, though, got the run back in the bottom of the eighth on pinch hitter Jefry Marte's RBI double. But they couldn't push across another run and ultimately lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

"We put together a good inning in the 13th, we just couldn't get that hit," manager Mike Scioscia said. "But we lost this game in a lot of ways earlier. We had some opportunities on the offensive side and we cracked the door for them on the defensive side. That really hurt us more than anything."

Both starting pitchers were called up from the minors to make the start Friday, the Angels' Alex Meyer from Triple-A Salt Lake and the Blue Jays' Mat Latos from Triple-A Buffalo.

Meyer lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs, two hits and four walks. Latos went five innings, allowing four runs, six hits and three walks.

"He just lost his release point a little bit," Scioscia said. "Alex is a big kid (6-foot-9) and he's got a lot of moving parts, and when it's on you can see his stuff is electric. But he got a little bit out of sync."

NOTES: The Blue Jays will call up RHP Casey Lawrence to start Saturday against the Angels. He is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two relief appearances for the Blue Jays this season, but has an ERA of 1.80 in two starts for Triple-A Buffalo. ... Angels RHP Mike Morin was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of tightness in his neck. ... Blue Jays INF/OF Ty Kelly was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Latos. ... Blue Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki left the game in the eighth inning after sliding hard into third base, appearing to jam his right ankle. After the game, the Blue Jays said Tulowitzki's hamstring was bothering him. ... Angels 3B Yunel Escobar left the game after the sixth inning when he appeared to hurt himself trying to get out of the way of a pitch. Escobar initially stayed in the game and grounded out but was replaced to start the seventh inning. The Angels announced he left the game because of dizziness.

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