Late homer adds fire to Bautista-O'Day back-and-forth
Blue Jays slugger, O's reliever have history dating back to 2013
BALTIMORE -- The tension between Jose Bautista and Darren O'Day continued on Sunday afternoon, and this time it was the Blue Jays outfielder who came out on top.
Bautista hit a two-run homer off the Orioles reliever in the top of the eighth inning to give Toronto some much needed breathing room in the eventual 10-7 victory. The home run came shortly after O'Day threw a pitch up and in on Bautista, which prompted a lengthy glare toward the mound.
The two have been a lot more than division rivals dating back to 2013. It started when they exchanged words following an O'Day strikeout, and they have been battling ever since.
"Emotion, the moment, there's history there," Bautista said when asked about his post-homer celebration, which included a little bat flip, a slow trot to first base and some words from the dugout. "He's hit me a few times, he's thrown behind me a few times and I've gotten him a few times.
"It was emotion in the moment; he threw one behind me, it's a one-run game, it's late, it gave my team a three-run lead instead of a one-run lead going into the eighth and ninth. It's an exciting part of the game."
The bad blood dates back to a three-game series in Toronto that took place in late June 2013. O'Day struck out Bautista to end the seventh inning in the series opener, and there was a verbal exchange between the two on their way off the field.
Later in that series, Bautista hit a go-ahead homer late in the game. When the veteran slugger rounded third, he began shouting at the Orioles reliever. Last year, the emotions ran even higher when O'Day hit Bautista with a pitch that was believed to be in retaliation to a pitch that Marcus Stroman threw above the head of O's catcher Caleb Joseph.
It appears that an offseason away has done little to cool emotions between the two parties. O'Day was asked about the latest encounter following Sunday's loss, but it appears he didn't want to escalate the situation even further.
"I didn't hear him," O'Day said of Bautista's verbal jabs. "I was focusing on myself. I threw a terrible pitch. If you make mistakes like that, a guy like that is going to hit them. So, no, I didn't notice what he was doing."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter suggested after the game that Bautista's reaction was part of his "shtick." He also suggested that O'Day wasn't the only one in the league that Bautista has taken issue with over the years, but Toronto's All-Star contradicted those comments in his own postgame interview.
"I think this is the only guy that this happens with in the whole league, at least for me," Bautista said. "I don't have any history with anybody. The only reason why I have a history with this guy is because on one particular ... I don't know what day of the week it was, he struck me out and he started yapping at me.
"After that, it's been a back-and-forth of emotional situations. There was a similar one in Toronto, I hit another home run, then he hit me here, then today, he throws behind me, hit another home run. That's the way it goes. I'm going to face him again; I'm looking forward to those challenges."
The one comment in particular Bautista made that likely won't sit well with the Orioles was a perceived shot he took at the lack of velocity on O'Day's fastball. Bautista was asked if the pitch up and in caused him to bear down even more, and the outfielder didn't hold back.
"It's different for everybody that's on the mound and different for every pitcher," Bautista said. "At least with him, I know he's not going to blow 87 mph by me. I figured he was probably going to try to throw me more offspeed pitches after moving my feet a little bit with that fastball.
"I basically said to myself, I'm looking for offspeed. If he throws me a fastball, I'm going to go back to the dugout if it's a strike. I sat on slider, he threw it, luckily for me he threw it right down the middle."