Many in the Texas Rangers clubhouse after their 6-3 loss in Game 5 of the American League Division Series took exception to the bat flip from Toronto slugger Jose Bautista after his game-winning three-run homer in the seventh inning.
Bautista posed as he watched the ball sail into the left-field stands, then flipped his bat high into the air before taking a delayed trot around the bases. Right-hander Sam Dyson, who allowed the homer, twice approached Blue Jays hitters later in the inning and each time the benches cleared.
Afterward, left-hander Cole Hamels tried to take a diplomatic approach to the bat flip, which he admitted he has seen before after issuing homers to Bautista. Nevertheless, it didn’t sit well.
“It’s hard to be politically correct, but you want to be able to play the game the right way,” Hamels said. “You’ve got a lot of kids who are watching. You just want to be a ballplayer, and I think there’s a certain amount of respect that you’ve got to have.
“We understand there’s a huge level of excitement when things go your way. Sometimes, in the moments you forget about it. I can’t answer for him what his mindset was, but it is tough to see.”
I know that the baseball world is watching on TV. You’ve got kids. Don’t always like to see it, but that’s the level we’re at.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Bautista’s bat flip
Said manager Jeff Banister: “My perspective on that is we play the game the right way, hard, all 27 outs. We respect everybody.”
Bautista said that he doesn’t remember what he was thinking after the homer.
“I didn’t plan anything that I did and so I still don’t even know how I did it,” he said. “I just enjoyed the moment, rounded the bases and got to the dugout.”
Third baseman Adrian Beltre was in the Game 5 starting lineup, as expected, and his back appeared to be feeling better than when he was a surprise late addition to the Game 4 lineup.
Banister said that Beltre withstood the rigors of playing nine innings Monday and a three-hour flight Tuesday. Even before the flight Joey Gallo and Ed Lucas, infielders who had joined the club for Game 2 in case Beltre’s lower back strain did not improve, were flown back to Arizona to continue working out.
“There’s some measureable improvement from the other day, yet we’re still in that process of going through all the treatments and all the massages and stretching that he has to go through to go out on the field,” Banister said.
.444 Adrian Beltre’s batting average in the ALDS despite playing with a strain in his lower back
Beltre didn’t go through the on-field pregame workout with the rest of his teammates, but Banister didn’t expect that to be an issue. Beltre didn’t take BP on Monday and collected singles in his first two at-bats.
He went 1 for 4 in Game 5, legged out the back end of two possible double plays and made a couple of nice defensive plays charging the ball. When asked how he feels, though, went another direction.
“Who cares?” he said. “I’m going home.”
All hands on deck
Banister said that every pitcher on the ALDS roster, including Game 4 starter Derek Holland and the candidates for a potential Game 1 start for the AL Championship Series, was available out of the bullpen as the Rangers tried to keep their season alive.
“We’ve got to win the game today,” Banister said.
The home run by Jose Bautista was the first one allowed by Sam Dyson since his first appearance Aug. 1 after he was acquired from Miami. Arlington High grad Hunter Pence hit that one.
Holland bombed out early Monday in Game 4 after only two-plus innings, so early that he threw only 37 pitches. It would have taken the right situation, possibly to retire a lefty hitter, for him to pitch Wednesday.