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Gibbons: Bautista 'right guy, right time'

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- In John Gibbons' mind, Jose Bautista was the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

Bautista has displayed a knack of coming through for Toronto during big moments, and he was up to his old tricks on Saturday. It was his three-run shot with two outs in the eighth inning that secured a 3-0 victory over the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- In John Gibbons' mind, Jose Bautista was the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

Bautista has displayed a knack of coming through for Toronto during big moments, and he was up to his old tricks on Saturday. It was his three-run shot with two outs in the eighth inning that secured a 3-0 victory over the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

Full Game Coverage

The veteran slugger has been consistently getting on base all year, but there was a well-documented power outage through most of August and the first half of September. Well, the power is back, and the timing could not be better for a Toronto team that is leading the race to lock down one of two American League Wild Card spots by 1 1/2 games over the Orioles and two games over the Tigers.

Video: NYY@TOR: Bautista cranks go-ahead three-run homer

"It looks like he's heating up at the right time," Gibbons said. "Jose, he has been known to do some things in key spots. When I was sitting there on the bench with [bench coach] DeMarlo [Hale], I mentioned that to him. 'Right guy, right time,' and what did he do?"

Prior to Bautista's blast, the Blue Jays' offense was stuck in first gear following seven shutout innings by CC Sabathia, but all it took was one swing against reliever Tyler Clippard to move back into cruise control.

According to Statcast™, Bautista's 20th of the year was projected to travel 402 feet feet and left his bat at 111 mph. It also came on the heels of a game-tying ninth-inning homer that Bautista hit on Wednesday against Seattle. Home runs at this time of the year are big no matter who hits them, but there might be an even greater importance to Toronto if it's a sign of things to come.

During Toronto's first 15 games of September, Bautista had one extra-base hit. Over his last six games, Bautista has three doubles, a pair of homers and six RBIs. It's a small sample size, but it also could be the start of something bigger.

"I think it's pretty obvious how big he is for us," said Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman, who tossed seven shutout innings in a no-decision Saturday. "Obviously last year and obviously this year, it seems like he always steps up in those key moments when we need him the most. Even if he's struggling at the time, if we need him in a big situation, it always seems like he comes through. He's the guy, he's been the guy here for a long time, and we count on him to be big in those spots."

Bautista was asked after the game whether there was any explanation behind his recent turnaround. He replied with "that's baseball," but when pressed for details on whether injuries could have played a role, Bautista remained coy.

The veteran slugger had a pair of stints on the disabled list this year, with turf toe and a left knee sprain. He's also dealt with a right shoulder issue in the past, but if that has played a role, Bautista isn't saying. What's more important is that the production has been there lately, and Toronto needs it to continue in the future.

"That's always part of it, so I don't want to point to that," Bautista said of the injuries. "We have to deal with a lot, everybody at some point in here has been banged up or dealt with something. So I can't really point to that as an excuse, but do I feel better physically? Yeah. Has that helped? Probably, but I've played nicked up the last five-six years of my career. For the whole bulk of my career, that's how we all play, and I've had success."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Bautista