Kansas City, Mo. Jose Bautista has come a long way since 2004 when he played for four clubs, including the Kansas City Royals for 13 games, as a 23-year-old rookie.
Bautista hit his major league-leading 26th home run and drove in five runs to back Jesse Litsch, who picked up his first victory since 2008, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Royals, 13-1, on Tuesday night.
“It (2004) was definitely a weird year for me because I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time and the previous year I was in A-Ball,” Bautista said. “I was in no-man’s land mentally. It’s been awhile and obviously I’m a better ball player now than I was then. I’m just glad I’m having a good year.”
Bautista, who played for the Royals in 2004, homered in the first inning with Fred Lewis aboard. Bautista has homered in six of his last 13 games. His single in the second scored John Buck, who had three doubles.
“The tools were always there,” said Buck, who was a teammate of Bautista’s with the Royals. “I think every team he’s been with has always said that. It was just that who was going to be the team that lets him develop and become who he is now. Luckily, for the Blue Jays, the Blue Jays are the one.”
Bautista finished last season strong with 10 home runs after Sept. 1.
“He keeps going,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “I hope he gets 40. I’m very happy for him. He’s hit 36 home runs in little over a half of year. He has that kind of power.”
Bautista’s double in a five-run eighth gave him five RBIs to match his career high. It was the fourth time he’s done that, three this season.
Litsch (1-4) was 0-5 with a 7.08 ERA in eight starts since beating Baltimore on Sept. 18, 2008. He made only two starts last season before season-ending elbow surgery.
“It’s been a long time,” Litsch said. “It’s definitely a good thing to get that one off the shoulders and something to build on.”
Most of the game was played in the rain, but it wasn’t heavy enough to stop the game.
“We put up six runs early and I was just trying to get through five innings,” Litsch said. “They said the rain was coming. You want to get through five for sure so it’s an official game. I didn’t have time to think. I pretty much threw what he (Buck) put down and just worked with it.”
Litsch allowed one run and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings with no walks or strikeouts. He improved to 3-1 in four career starts against the Royals.
The Blue Jays have won four of their past five games, while the Royals have lost seven of eight.
Adam Lind singled and scored in the third inning and hit a two-run homer in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, matching his career high. Encarnacion had three doubles and three RBIs as the Blue Jays collected a season-high eight doubles. That ties a Royals record for most doubles allowed in a game.
Royals starter Anthony Lerew left with bruised ribs and a right biceps contusion after being struck by a line drive by Encarnacion in the second. Lerew threw out Encarnacion, but walked off the field without attempting a warm up pitch.
“Nothing is broken. It looks a lot worse than it is, especially the bicep,” Lerew said. “The ribs hurt more than the bicep even though the bicep looks worse.
“I’ve never come out of a game from being hurt before. I knew it was going to hurt. It still hurts. I thought the ball may still be lodged in my ribs.”
Lerew (1-4) has allowed 18 runs and 18 hits, including six home runs, and five walks in nine innings in losing his past three starts. Lerew retired just four of the nine batters he faced Tuesday, allowing four runs and three hits with two walks.
“He’s had his struggles,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s got to find ways to get through it.”
The Royals avoided a shutout when Alberto Callaspos two-out single in the sixth scored David DeJesus.