5/30/2014 1:00 A.M. ET
Bautista records out at first from right field
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista pulled off the kind of play that is rarely seen in Major League Baseball by throwing out a runner at first base on a ground ball to right field.
During the ninth inning of the Blue Jays' 8-6 loss in 10 innings on Thursday night, Royals designated hitter Billy Butler hit a sharp grounder to the right side of the field. The ball easily went past second baseman Steve Tolleson and into right field.
Bautista charged the ball and then fired a strike to Edwin Encarnacion. The throw beat Butler to the bag by at least a foot as first-base umpire Adrian Johnson punched his fist into the air for the out call. It's the type of play that most right fielders wouldn't even bother trying to make and according to Blue Jays manager John Gibbons shows just how high of a baseball IQ that Bautista possesses.
"He's a great defender, he really is," Gibbons said. "He's really known for his offense, but he's one of the best in the game, too, defensively. That's why he's a perennial All-Star. His game awareness is big. He knew [Butler] was running, he doesn't have that much speed and he really charged the ball.
"Jose, people know how good he is, but I'm not sure the baseball world recognizes how good of a defender he is, or how good of an all-around player he is."
The throw to first is something Bautista has tried before in the past but never executed at the big league level. It's also the move that former Expos outfielder Larry Walker made famous in the early 1990s when he turned the throw into one of his signature moves.
Blue Jays staying course with 5-man rotation
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have decided to stick with the status quo in their starting rotation. With an off-day on Monday that means everyone will get a little bit of extra rest.
The last time Toronto had an off-day was May 19 and it allowed the club to temporarily go with a four-man rotation. Right-hander Liam Hendriks has since been named the club's No. 5 starter and although the Blue Jays had the option to skip his next outing that's not the decision they decided to make.
Hendriks will get the start on Tuesday in the series opener at Detroit. R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ will follow before the Blue Jays return home for an Interleague series vs. the Cardinals.
"At this moment, yes," manager John Gibbons said of moving forward with a five-man rotation.
It's technically hard to argue with Hendriks' numbers. Through two starts, he has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over 11 2/3 innings. He recorded a quality start in a 3-2 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night and has done enough to keep the Blue Jays in both of the games he pitched.
The problem is that the pitching lines have also been deceiving. During the outing vs. Tampa Bay, Hendriks got seven of his outs on fly balls hit to the warning track. There was also a shot into the second deck by Desmond Jennings that went just foul, a double off the wall by Matt Joyce and a two-run homer off the bat of Wil Myers.
There also was a series of spectacular plays made by the Blue Jays' defense that kept the game tied at 2 until the ninth inning. In other words, the start could have gone a whole lot differently if not for a series of events that worked in Hendriks' favor.
"I thought early on he wasn't using his offspeed pitch enough," Gibbons said. "He has a pretty good changeup. As a starter, I think he has to flip his curveball in there and I don't think he was doing that enough early on. Then, he started doing it and I thought he was better.
"But some games are like that. He's a contact guy, he's going to give up hits, he's going to barrel some balls, but we played some kind of defense and that was the difference."