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Joey Bats' breakout blast a sweet relief

Blue Jays slugger's go-ahead HR snaps 67 at-bat drought
MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays were in need of a spark, and some runs, when Jose Bautista stepped to the plate with two outs and two on in the top of the 13th inning early Saturday morning. Bautista delivered with his first home run of the season, propelling his team to a much-needed victory. It was the type of swing the Blue Jays are hoping will unleash the full power potential of their star slugger.

Bautista's three-run homer off Angels right-hander Jesse Chavez helped the Blue Jays to an 8-7 win over the Angels in a game that went 5 hours, 36 minutes. It not only helped seal the game for Toronto, but also could go a long way toward getting Bautista back to his regular form.

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ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays were in need of a spark, and some runs, when Jose Bautista stepped to the plate with two outs and two on in the top of the 13th inning early Saturday morning. Bautista delivered with his first home run of the season, propelling his team to a much-needed victory. It was the type of swing the Blue Jays are hoping will unleash the full power potential of their star slugger.

Bautista's three-run homer off Angels right-hander Jesse Chavez helped the Blue Jays to an 8-7 win over the Angels in a game that went 5 hours, 36 minutes. It not only helped seal the game for Toronto, but also could go a long way toward getting Bautista back to his regular form.

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"There's no doubt that was huge for him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I think he can exhale a little bit. It's huge."

Bautista snapped a streak of 67 regular-season at-bats without a homer. He previously ended an 0-for-20 skid with an infield single in the ninth inning.

"The home run felt nice," said Bautista, who has four career homers in extra innings. "It's good to contribute. I think I contributed to the win tonight and that's important. Hopefully I can continue to contribute some more."

For his part, Gibbons said he hasn't been worried about the lack of production from his No. 3 hitter. Bautista entered the series opener against the Angels hitting .109 with one RBI on the season.

"I know he's just a time bomb waiting to explode," Gibbons said. "You're not going to hold him down forever. Maybe that home run tonight really gets him going."

Bautista said his swing remains "a work in progress."

"I think it's a challenge all year long, not just me, but for everybody, to stay sharp," he said. "Sometimes it comes in bunches and it goes the wrong way and I've just got to be more consistent."

Does Bautista feel the homers will start to come in bunches now that he's on the board?

"I certainly hope so, but I'm not going to go out there and try to hit a home run every time," he said. "I'm going to try and contribute and do something positive for the team when I get a chance and hopefully put us in a position to win games."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Bautista