Toronto's 3-2 win over the New York Yankees Monday night wasn't a playoff game, but it could have been. Jose Bautista had one of those nights again, with two home runs, knocking in all three.
But his go-ahead home run in the eighth inning was a thing of beauty, and will go down as one of those "all-time" Blue Jays highlights for four reasons:
1 - It was against the Yankees, which meant that the Rogers Centre had a terrific turnout. 29,198 people came out to the ballpark--9,000 over average. Of course, that accounts for a number of Yankee fans who made the trip North for the series, but the crowd was decidedly pro-Blue Jays, and closer Kevin Gregg's performance in the closing moments seemed like it blew the retractable roof off the place, or it seemed that way on TV.
2 - During Bautista's last at-bat before the home run, the benches cleared after a pitch got away from Yankee starter Ivan Nova and nearly clocked Bautista in the head. After Cito Gaston and Yunel Escobar were tossed earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes. The game became far more important as it wore on.
3 - It was his 40th home run. No Blue Jay has hit 40 home runs since Carlos Delgado in 2003, and particularly awesome because of the bat flip that came at the end.
4 - Damien Cox.
Video via MLB.com
But don't take my word for it. What do the real critics have to say?
When Jose Bautista launched his game-winning home run to left field in the eighth inning that provided the Toronto Blue Jays (65-59) with a scrappy 3-2 victory over the Yankees (77-48) Monday night at Rogers Centre, his deliberate journey around the bases had added meaning.
-Robert MacLeod, The Globe and Mail
all of the hesitancy and maintained composure that Jays fans had exhibited over the past season fell by the wayside yesterday evening. Like most heroes, all it took was the sight of Bautista overcoming adversity to accomplish what he set out to do. And to the gratefulness of all Jays fans, he set out to win the game with a single swing of the bat.
-Zoolander34, Drunk Jays Fans
This is a big moment for Bautista. Jays fans haven't been sure how to react to his success. But what happened Monday night — defying the Yankees, and a PED insinuation — will endear him to Toronto.
-David Brown, Big League Stew
Bautista's jog around the bases lasted 28 seconds and he soaked up every step as the Yankees watched. After finally planting his foot on home plate, he pumped his fist repeatedly as the crowd inside Rogers Centre roared with approval.
-Jordan Bastian, MLB.com
[Above image courtesy of Zoolander34]