It was a quiet end for one of the best to ever swing a bat in a Blue Jays uniform.
With his time as a Blue Jay almost certainly coming to an end on Sunday afternoon, José Bautista only stepped up to the plate twice but made a big impact as the designated hitter in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Yankees, going 1-for-1 and hitting a sacrifice fly in the fourth that plated Toronto’s first run of the afternoon.
After the game, Bautista could be seen accepting bittersweet goodbye hugs from his teammates but admitted that this Sunday’s game wasn’t quite as emotional as the one he had played a week earlier, which was Toronto’s final home game of the season.
“On the road, it’s much different. Much easier to handle today,” he told reporters. “It felt good to contribute to today’s victory. Other than that, no different than any other game.”
Bautista Ends Disappointing Season on Positive Note
Bautista’s two at-bats on Sunday brought his RBI total to 65 (with 23 homers) and bumps his average up to .203, which is still the worst single-season average in franchise history for a regular player. Bautista, who has already committed to playing in 2018, isn’t ready to leave the place and team he has called home since 2008, but will be ready to compete for whatever team decides to take him in in the offseason.
“All I can do is get ready for next season and be ready to contribute for the team that I’m with at that time,” said the 36-year-old outfielder. “Right now, I’m a Toronto Blue Jay. That hasn’t changed. I’ve said it all along: This is where I want to be and finish my career. But we’ll see what happens in the future. It’s out of my control now.”
Good Riddance: Blue Jays End Frustrating Season
For the Blue Jays, however, this win puts an end to what has been a very disappointing 2017 campaign. After getting off to a 10-20 start, the Jays never really recovered after losing more than two dozen players to the disabled list at least once in the season, ending the year with a 76-86 record after going 89-73 last year. But amusingly, the Jays—who had spent the entire season in the cellar of the AL East division before Sunday—ended fourth in the division, squeaking past the Orioles (who were shutout in their final game of the season).
“It’s been a tough year, I feel that,” reflected longtime manager John Gibbons. “I’m responsible for everything that happens out there. It was a battle all year.”
“Slow start. We battled all year to get back in it and just never could.”
“It was a frustrating year,” said catcher Russell Martin. “I like what our team’s made of. We just didn’t perform like we should have.”
After starter Brett Anderson threw five shutout innings, Danny Barnes allowed a solo shot to left from left-fielder Matt Holliday—Holliday’s 18th of the season—but still earned his third win in relief after managing to hold the Yankees to just the single run. After Ryan Goins’ slow RBI dribbler broke the tie for Toronto in the eighth, Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth inning, earning his 39th save in 49 opportunities to close out a career-best year for the young closer.