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Bautista starts as AL clinches home-field advantage

Outfielder goes 0-for-2 in All-Star Game; Buehrle stays on call in 5-3 win over NL

MINNEAPOLIS -- After an 0-for-2 performance in Tuesday's All-Star Game, it's back to work for Jose Bautista as he prepares to lead the Blue Jays in a second-half playoff push.

Though Bautista didn't make an impact in the box score, the American League came away with a 5-3 victory, a fact that the Blue Jays hope will be relevant to them in October.

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"We secured [home-field advantage] for the league," Bautista said. "It's always good to win any game you're participating in. The All-Star Game is no different. We played pretty good. We had some good at-bats from Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve drove in a run with a sac fly. A lot of different people contributed. It was a good game."

Bautista struck out swinging in the bottom of the first and grounded out to third in the fifth inning of the AL's win. He nearly made a great catch in foul territory while playing right field during the third inning, but couldn't corral the ball.

"I got scared by the fans. I thought they were going to get their hands in there, and they didn't," Bautista said of the play. "I had a last-minute panic situation, and I dropped it. But Yu Darvish picked me up and we came out of the inning with no harm."

Bautista, who led all of baseball in fan voting this year, said he was thrilled to represent Toronto in the All-Star Game -- as he played in his fifth straight, which includes four straight starts.

"It was unbelievable. Awesome as always," Bautista said. "Minnesota was a great host. I've enjoyed my time here. I was busy, but it was pretty fun. There was stuff to do before and after the games and everybody seemed to be getting along great as a group. We have a little core group that keeps coming back every year and we're getting pretty acquainted with each other. It's nice to see everyone back."

Like many others, Bautista said one of his lasting images from this game would be the emotional farewell to Derek Jeter.

"It was amazing. He's a class act and one of the players that's going to be the most missed in the game today because of the way he goes about his business on and off the field. The moment was cool," Bautista said. "Everybody got up and clapped for him and cheered for him for a really long time, and that was pretty neat to see. I can't complain the last two years, having had the pleasure of seeing sendoffs like that."

With the Blue Jays currently sitting four games behind Baltimore in the AL East, Bautista hoped the All-Star break would be a refresher for the team, which has last eight of its last 10.

"We're close. We're only four games back," Bautista said. "If we get back to playing the way we were and we get the people that are hurt back on the field, it should be a good last two months of the season."

The outfielder was the only Blue Jay who saw action, as left-hander Mark Buehrle did not make an appearance in the game. The five-time All-Star said before the game he wouldn't be heartbroken if he missed out on the action.

"If there are some younger guys or some hometown guys they want to throw and they tell me they're not going to throw me, it's not going to be the end of the world," Buehrle said Monday. "I'm just here to have fun."

The Blue Jays' third All-Star selection, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, did not make the trip to Minnesota after straining his right quad muscle on July 5.

Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for

Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Bautista, Mark Buehrle