If you wanted to get binary with it, it was a battle of two of the best stories in baseball. Jose Bautista was supposed to be one of the best stories last year before fading back into the scenery, but he somehow got substantially better. Bartolo Colon was a spring punchline that could have launched the career of a 1,000 Yankee-hating stand-up comics, but then he showed up to camp throwing 96 MPH with command. Two narratives would enter; only one would leave.
Bautista homered off Colon in the first inning, which is your standard-issue news these days. If it doesn't hit a pterodactyl mid-flight, it's not really surprising anymore. But what happened in the sixth inning was a bit of a shocker. With the score 1-1, Corey Patterson doubled off c. Jose Bautista waltzed to the plate, reeking of those Jose Bautista pheromones that intimidate others so, and Joe Girardi had Bautista walked.
There were no outs.
The last time a hitter was feared like this, it was 2007. Barry Bonds was usually walked in the obvious situations, and every so often, he’d get walked in a questionable situation, like when it would put runners at first and second with no outs. At the time, Jose Bautista was a perfectly cromulent third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit for a little power, played a little defense, and did his thing completely unnoticed. You could have had 400 guesses in 2007 as to who would be the next hitter to make opposing managers perspire liquid intentional walks, and you wouldn’t have come up with Bautista.
Baseball, you are weird.
The move backfired on Girardi. Yunel Escobar bunted the runners over, and then Girardi ordered another intentional walk, this one to Juan Rivera, noted non-Bautista. That set up an Aaron Hill ground-ball single between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to score a run, which was followed by a bases-loaded walk from Eric Thames. Catcher J.P. Arencibia -- who is a pretty fantastic story for the Jays in his own right -- cleared the bases with a double into the right-center field gap to give the Blue Jays a 6-1 lead.
And it all started with an intentional walk to Bautista. Actually, it all started with Corey Patterson doubling off Bartolo Colon. Now that we’re back in 2006, I think I’ll see "Ghost Rider" in the theaters. Maybe it gets better with a bigger screen.
Colon finished the sixth, and he finished the game with four walks (two intentional), six earned runs, and eight strikeouts on the night. Jays starter Carlos Villanueva, a spot starter who replaced the injured Jesse Litsch, pitched five strong innings for the win, and four pitchers followed to prevent the Yankees from getting close.