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hongwei28
hongwei28 Feb 10

TORONTO — Jose Bautista will return to the scene of some of his biggest moments in baseball Tuesday night when the New York Mets visit the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Mets and Blue Jays will play a two-game interleague series at the Rogers Centre Jerome Baker Color Rush Jersey , where Bautista starred for the better part of nine years.

The Mets will start right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.47 ERA) against Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada (4-7, 4.53) in the series opener.

While the Blue Jays (39-45) were losing 3-2 in 10 innings on Monday afternoon to the Detroit Tigers at the Rogers Centre, the Mets (33-48) had the day off. It gave Bautista a chance to renew acquaintances in Toronto.

“I have some stuff scheduled, to meet up with people who were part of my life when I was there and visit some of the usual spots,” Bautista told reporters in Miami, where the Mets played last weekend. “It’s definitely a place that I hold dear and close to my heart. It’s going to be a fun time.”

Bautista twice led the American League in home runs with the Blue Jays, hitting 54 in 2010 and 43 in 2011. His most famous home run came in 2015 at the Rogers Centre, a three-run blast with an iconic bat flip that won the American League Division Series in the fifth and deciding game against the Texas Rangers.

He played 1,235 regular-season games for the Blue Jays from 2008 to 2017, hitting 288 homers (second only to Carlos Delgado’s 336) with 776 RBIs (third on the team’s career list).

Bautista also had an influence on his teammates.

“He was a huge help in my development,” Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar said. “There was a time in my first full year when I went from left to center and I was making some plays and I kind of earned his respect and he metaphorically gave me the keys (to the outfield) and told me to go get anything I could. And my voice became the voice in the outfield. That was pretty special to me.”

When the Blue Jays did not pick up the option on his contract for this season, he became a free agent. He did not have a team until the Atlanta Braves signed him on April 18. After a minor-league stint, he struggled with the Braves for 12 games and was released May 20. The Mets signed him May 22.

In 36 games with the Mets, the 37-year-old is batting .250/.418/476 with three homers and 13 RBIs. In his past 14 games, he is hitting .300/.462/.650 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

“I’m not surprised by what he’s doing,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He probably just needed some at-bats to get going and now we’re seeing the byproduct of him being ready. I’ve always known he’s a really good hitter. He keeps himself in really good shape. He’s probably in the best shape of anybody on our team and is (the oldest player on the team). Great approach, great patience, still has bat speed.”

“Not having a spring training, wanting to swing the bat and some other things might’ve played into me not (reaching base) as much in Atlanta,” Bautista said.

Bautista always has been a versatile player. He played mostly right field with the Blue Jays but also manned third base and occasionally first base. He has played 12 games in left field for the Mets, 10 in right field, two at third base and one at second base.

This will be the second series between the teams. They split two games on May 15-16 at Citi Field.

Wheeler was the losing pitcher on May 16, a 12-1 Blue Jays victory, in his only career outing against Toronto. He allowed six runs, seven hits and three walks and struck out seven in four innings.

Estrada is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in seven career games (two starts) against the Mets. He struggled earlier in the season but is 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his past five starts.

It was a long and odd day, one that started with teenager Juan Soto homering in a game that officially was played before he made his major league debut.

Huh?

Soto delivered a tiebreaking, pinch-hit Brian O'Neill Color Rush Jersey , two-run shot in the sixth inning of a game that began and was suspended because of rain last month, five days before he was called up from the minors for the first time, to lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the opener of an unusual semi-doubleheader Monday.

”Geez, he has a bright future. How old is he, 19? You don’t see too many 19-year-olds doing what he’s doing,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said about Soto. ”I’m excited to see him develop for years to come.”

In Game 2, Judge made two key catches of balls hit by Trea Turner, including one on the warning track that bailed out Aroldis Chapman with two men on in the bottom of the ninth to end it, and the Yankees grabbed a 4-2 victory with the help of Aaron Hicks‘ go-ahead two-run homer.

That final-out fly ”got me to hold my breath for a sec,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Throw in a trade by Washington to add reliever Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals, full-throated chants of ”Let’s go, Yankees!” from portions of the sellout crowd of 42,723, and all in all, so much happened at Nationals Park.

”That,” Nationals closer Sean Doolittle said, summing up things neatly, ”was weird.”

Game 1 resumed with the score 3-all and the Nationals about to bat in the bottom of the sixth. After Bryce Harper – who had a full beard back on May 15, when the game began, but was clean-shaven this time – struck out, and Anthony Rendon singled, Soto drove a 97 mph fastball from Chad Green (4-1) to the back of the second deck in right field.

”I thought he had a good chance to hit the ball hard,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. ”That was hard.”

It was Soto’s sixth homer since he was brought up from Double-A Harrisburg on May 20 – and half have come against the Yankees. Soto stood and admired this one before beginning his trot around the bases.

”A lot of people tell me, `Hey, you’re killing the Yankees,'” Soto said. ”Everybody knows the Yankees, likes the Yankees. That feels pretty good.”

Soto also was involved in a double play while playing left in the seventh. Didi Gregorius lined to Soto, and he lobbed the ball to shortstop Turner James Washington Color Rush Jersey , who sprinted to second base to double off Gary Sanchez.

Soto’s stats – and all others from Game 1 – will count as being part of the originally scheduled game on May 15, but Soto’s debut will still be considered to have come on the actual date it happened, May 20, according to the Nationals, citing the Elias Sports Bureau.

Wander Suero (1-0) got the win for 1 1-3 scoreless innings – one inning on May 15, and one out on Monday.

Doolittle struck out Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, then got Sanchez to fly out to center in the ninth for his 18th save.

The Nationals had lost five of six games entering the day.

Game 2, which was completely rained out May 16, began a half-hour after Game 1 finished, and Washington led 2-1 before Hicks’ ninth homer, which came in the fifth against Erick Fedde (0-2) and got plenty of Yankees fans excited – and loud.

The rookie righty lost to the Yankees for the second time in less than a week, giving up three runs in 5 1-3 innings this time.

Stanton provided some cushion with an RBI double off Sammy Solis in the seventh, part of a 4-for-5 showing in Game 2.

Sonny Gray (5-4) allowed two runs in five-plus innings, with Mark Reynolds driving in both.

HARPER’S DAY

Harper’s batting average is .212 after he went 0 for 5 on Monday, with two strikeouts, three groundouts and a walk. He has one hit in his last 27 at-bats. ”He’s just in one of those little funks, where you’re kind of happy to face him right now,” Boone said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: OF Brett Gardner didn’t play, a day after an MRI exam showed swelling in his right knee. Boone doesn’t expect Gardner to go on the DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, on the DL for two weeks with a strained right hamstring, took fielding practice before the start of play Monday and said he ”felt fine.” Hellickson has taken two bullpen sessions and ”felt 100 percent,” so expects to be able to return soon. … 1B Matt Adams was ”still a little sore” after getting hit by a pitch on a finger Friday and did not play.

ROSTER MOVE

The Yankees returned right-hander Giovanny Gallegos to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after the game. Gallegos had been called up as the 26th man for the nightcap Monday.

UP NEXT

Yankees: Open a three-game set against visiting Seattle, with RHP Domingo German (1-4, 5.23 ERA) pitching Tuesday.

Nationals: Begin a three-game series at home against Baltimore on Tuesday, with Jefry Rodriguez on the mound for his second major league appearance and first start.


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