Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista managed to circle the bases yesterday at his usual speed despite carrying a large chip on his shoulder.
Bautista sought revenge on Orioles reliever Darren O'Day, and his tie-breaking, two-run homer pretty much did the trick. But he wasn't content with letting his bat do the talking.
Bautista chirped and gestured at O'Day, whose enthusiastic reaction to striking him out the previous night led to yesterday's follow-up exchange of words.
Plenty of fans have suggested that today's starter, Freddy Garcia, should plant a fastball somewhere in Bautista's torso, though we could debate whether it would leave an actual mark. But Garcia won't receive those instructions from manager Buck Showalter, who has no intention of putting his players in harm's way.
If Garcia drills Bautista, Toronto starter Josh Johnson will likely retaliate. Benches and bullpens might empty. Punches might be thrown. Suspensions might be handed down. And the Orioles have enough players on the disabled list.
It's unlikely that Bautista would simply drop his bat and jog to first base. He's not going to buy the argument that the ball slipped out of Garcia's sweaty hand.
Showalter will make sure that his team channels its energy toward snapping the Blue Jays' 10-game winning streak, which would be the preferable method of retaliation. He's not going to encourage Garcia or anyone else to use Bautista for target practice.
Bautista is 7-for-14 with two home runs lifetime against Garcia. Adam Lind is 7-for-11 with two homers.
Garcia is 9-8 with a 5.74 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) against the Blue Jays, and 5-5 with a 6.22 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) at Rogers Centre.
Garcia will be making his first start since June 15. He tossed a scoreless inning in relief Wednesday afternoon in Detroit, allowing two hits and striking out two batters.
Johnson has never faced the Orioles.
Chris Dickerson is 4-for-7 against Johnson, but he hasn't started since June 17 and is in a 2-for-20 slump that includes 12 strikeouts. Nate McLouth is 1-for-11 with five strikeouts, and Travis Ishikawa is 1-for-10.
Down on the farm, Jake Arrieta earned the win for Triple-A Norfolk last night. He allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings, with no walks, five strikeouts, one home run and a hit batter. He threw 97 pitches, 62 for strikes.