Bautista breaks slump, gets 3 hits as Blue Jays beat Orioles
BALTIMORE (AP) As the strikeouts mounted and his hitless streak endured, Jose Bautista was not concerned because the Toronto Blue Jays were winning anyway.
Manager John Gibbons wasn't worried, either, because he figured it was only a matter of time before the slugger got on track.
Bautista ended an early-season slump by going 3 for 3 and scoring four runs as Toronto ruined the Baltimore Orioles' home opener with a 12-5 victory Friday.
Josh Donaldson and Dioner Navarro each drove in three runs for the Blue Jays, who took control with a four-run first inning and led 10-1 in the fourth.
After going 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts during Toronto's opening three-game series in New York, Bautista got a hit in each of his first three at-bats and added a walk before leaving with leg cramps. He drove in two runs and tied his career high in runs scored as the Blue Jays improved to 3-1.
''Slow start individually doesn't matter when your team is winning games,'' Bautista said. ''If we sustain that I'll be happy.''
Toronto manager John Gibbons knew Bautista - a five-time All-Star - wouldn't be struggling for long.
''He's the last guy you got to worry about,'' Gibbons said. ''Early in the year they were pitching him tough, but I thought he was too aggressive. Today I thought he did a better job of getting a pitch to hit.''
Mark Buehrle (1-0) allowed one run and eight hits in six innings to earn his 200th career win.
''It's going to mean more when I get home, retired and sit on the couch and look back,'' Buehrle said. ''It's a round number. Obviously been around a while, stayed healthy, made some starts.''
Toronto finished with 16 hits, half of them doubles - including two by Dalton Pompey. After playing the spoiler's role at Yankee Stadium for New York's home opener Monday, the Blue Jays pulled off an encore at Camden Yards.
''We got one more,'' Gibbons said. ''Maybe we can do it right at our place.''
Adam Jones homered, had a career-high tying four hits and drove in two runs for the Orioles, now 41-21 in home openers since coming to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954.
Bud Norris (0-1) allowed eight runs and seven hits in three-plus innings. He was 4-0 lifetime against Toronto and had won nine straight decisions against AL East foes.
''Frustrating. It's not what I envisioned,'' Norris said. ''It's tough to do that here at home and in front of my team. I'll take that one on me, for sure.''
After winning two of three on the road against Tampa Bay, Baltimore returned home for its first game at Camden Yards since October.
The pregame festivities included a video montage of the Orioles' run to the 2014 AL Championship Series, plenty of fireworks and Jones and J.J. Hardy receiving their Gold Glove Awards. Also, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer threw out the ceremonial first pitch to 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey.
Under an overcast sky and with rain in the forecast, Norris began the game with a first-pitch strike that drew a huge cheer. Not long after that, Toronto sucked much of the enthusiasm from the sellout crowd of 45,936.
The first-inning uprising began with three straight hits, including an RBI single by Bautista. Edwin Encarnacion added a sacrifice fly and Dioner Navarro doubled in two runs.
Jones connected in the bottom half to make it 4-1, but in the third Bautista doubled and scored on a fly ball.
Toronto batted around in a five-run fourth. Pompey and Donaldson each hit two-run doubles and Bautista singled in a run.
Blue Jays: The eight doubles was Toronto's most since July 20, 2010, at Kansas City.
Orioles: It was the third time in club history that Orioles allowed at least 10 runs in a home opener. They yielded 12 to Milwaukee in 1988 and 13 to the Yankees in 1959.
Blue Jays: OF Michael Saunders (left knee surgery) won't be rushed back from a rehabilitation assignment that began with an 0-for-3 performance Thursday with Class A Dunedin. ''You want him to get plenty of at-bats,'' Gibbons said.
Orioles: LHP Wesley Wright has a sore trapezius that could put him on the DL. ''It's one of those things that's been kind of bothering me a little bit the last couple days and it got to a point where it wasn't going away,'' he said after the game.
Blue Jays: RH Aaron Sanchez will make his first major league start Saturday night.
Orioles: RH Ubaldo Jimenez returns to the rotation after struggling in 2014, going 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA.