TORONTO -- José Bautista lives for the big moments. In case anybody forgot that, he reminded them on Tuesday night.
Bautista opened the second inning of the American League Wild Card Game vs. Baltimore with a bang. He lifted a 3-1 fastball from Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman and sent it over the left-field wall for an early lead in what turned out to be 5-2 victory in 11 innings. The win sends Toronto to the AL Division Series vs. the Rangers starting Thursday in Texas (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS and Sportsnet).
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"Just looking for a fastball in the zone," Bautista said after the game. "I was surprised he challenged me with a second fastball, but I was leading off the inning, so I didn't expect anything else. It's just a lot of time you get ready for those pitches and they end up not being there. That one was and I didn't miss it, so I was happy to contribute."
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According to Statcast™, the ball was projected to travel 357 feet and left Bautista's bat at 101 mph. The moon shot had a launch angle of 37.8 degrees. Bautista had just two homers all season with a higher launch angle, and there was just one homer last postseason -- the first of the Statcast™ Era -- that left the bat at a steeper angle. That blast came off the bat of Toronto's Chris Colabello, who hit one with a launch angle of 38.4 degrees in Game 4 of the ALDS against Texas.
It was Bautista's fifth home run in 12 career postseason games, and it joins other big moments such as the bat-flip homer during Game 5 of last year's ALDS and a two-run shot vs. Kansas City in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, it wasn't the most memorable home run of the game, because there were plenty of heroics left in store. Edwin Encarnacion was the one who ended things in the bottom of the 11th with a three-run shot into the second deck in left field.
Bautista had a perfect view of the shot from the on-deck circle, and he immediately ran onto the field to celebrate with his teammate and close friend.
"Any time we can get to win a game, it doesn't matter who does it," Bautista said. "Having a teammate and a friend do it in such a big moment, it's awesome. As soon as he hit the ball, I knew it was gone. I was celebrating and probably felt just as good as he did."