Earthquake shocks Toronto, Jays
Magnitude 5.5 quake hits before game vs. Cardinals
TORONTO -- Hours prior to the Blue Jays' contest against the Cardinals on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, an earthquake reading 5.5 on the Richter Scale sent shock waves throughout the city of Toronto, spanning as far as Boston, Chicago, and New York.
While an earthquake in Toronto is practically unheard of -- the last one of this magnitude coming nearly 20 years ago -- this is the second time this month the Blue Jays have experienced a series of tremors.
On June 14 in a 6-3 win over the Padres, play in the eighth inning was momentarily interrupted as a magnitude-5.7 earthquake swept through the San Diego area. It was the first quake many of the Jays had experienced -- little did they know it wouldn't be their last.
Fortunately this time around play had not yet begun. However, manager Cito Gaston recalls the dangers of earthquakes, and his experience during Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the A's and the Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco when a magnitude-6.9 quake caused extensive destruction to the Bay Area.
"I just felt one last week [in San Diego] and my first thoughts were San Francisco," Gaston said.
"They happen so fast, and you think nothing's happened around you, but something's happened somewhere," Gaston added. "That's just the way it was in San Francisco that day, we moved around a little bit but a lot of things happened over there in Oakland and in the city of San Francisco. Anytime I feel one of those [tremors], that's my first thought."
Gaston was absolutely correct. While Toronto was left with minimal damage, the neighboring province of Quebec had several buildings evacuated due to extensive structural damage. It was nothing near the extent of the '89 quake in the Bay Area, but enough that it was the hot topic of conversation in both locker rooms.
"I was [asking around and] a few kids in the clubhouse, they had never even heard of one being here," Gaston said.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who managed the A's during the quake in the '89 World Series, said he'd heard about it, but didn't feel a thing, prompting the conversation back to baseball.
Gaston's advice to inexperienced Torontonians: "It's not so much about where you can run, because I don't think you can run anywhere -- you just have to hope you're in the right spot."
As for the Blue Jays recently, the right spot appears to be where they are not.
Bautista's bat gaining him more respect
TORONTO -- Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista continues to mash home runs at a torrid pace.
In Tuesday's 9-4 loss to the Cardinals, Bautista added two more home runs to his Major League-leading 20 -- a two-run blast in the second inning off Jaime Garcia and a solo shot in the seventh off reliever Kyle McClellan. Bautista, who now has six multi-home run games over his seven-year career, has accomplished that feat four times this year alone -- April 11 vs. the Orioles, May 15 vs. the Rangers, June 4 vs. the Yankees and June 22 vs. the Cardinals.
In the midst of what is shaping up to be a career year, the outfielder, who has never been an All-Star, thanks his manager, Cito Gaston, for providing him with the opportunity to be a full-time player in 2010. Prior to this season, the right fielder primarily played a utility role for the Blue Jays.
"He's very observant," Bautista said of Gaston. "He looks at people play, he's a judge of talent. If he sees something good, he'll let you play. I didn't start [really] producing last year until I started seeing regular playing time."
Providing utility players with an opportunity to play full-time is not something new to Gaston. Last season he batted Marco Scutaro, now with the Red Sox, atop the Blue Jays lineup, priming him for a breakout year -- .282 with a .379 on-base percentage and 100 runs.
Now that Bautista is seeing a steady incline in his production, he has noticed a change in how pitchers approach his at-bats.
"I've noticed the difference about three weeks ago after the Yankees series," Bautista said. "They started throwing me more breaking balls -- just an adjustment I'm going to have to make.
"If I'm consistent and on time when getting ready, everything is going to take care of itself."
While Bautista appears to fit right in with the Blue Jays' grip it and rip it philosophy -- the team's 108 home runs leads the Major Leagues -- he is actually quite the contrary. In fact, despite having 20 home runs and a .232 batting average entering Wednesday's game, Bautista boasted a .357 on-base percentage and saw an average of 4.19 pitches per at-bat -- good for ninth in the American League.
"It's huge," said Bautista about his success when being patient at the plate. "When I'm going bad I'm usually not seeing the ball too well and that's when I go out of the zone and chase pitches out of the zone. It shows that basically when I'm patient enough and I lay off of the bad pitches, they are eventually going to come over the plate, and that's when I do most of my damage."
Bautista's two-run home run in the second inning on Tuesday came after he worked a 3-0 count against Garcia, who has only surrendered three home runs over 85 1/3 innings this season.
Although Bautista is starting to garner more and more respect around the league, he said that is not something he pays much attention to.
"I think some guys are giving me a lot more respect than they did in the past and that's fine," Bautista said. "Not that I [need] that respect, I've just noticed the difference. I don't feel pressure because it's not one of my goals to lead the league in home runs. My goal is to be consistent with my at-bats and be ready for every at-bat every game."
Outfielder Dewayne Wise received his second start of the season, taking over left field for regular starter Fred Lewis. ... Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who was designated for assignment on June 20, has been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas and started Wednesday night. ... The Class A Dunedin Blue Jays guaranteed themselves a spot in the Florida State League playoffs with a 4-0 victory on Tuesday. It was their first division title since winning the second-half West Division title in 2008.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.